Easy-to-chew protein wafers can help nursing home residents gain weight and reduce the incidence of pressure ulcers and diarrhea, according to findings recently published in Age and Ageing.

Nursing home residents who consumed eight Protibis wafers a day for six weeks gained back more than 1.5% of their prior body mass on average, while a control group who did not eat the wafers lost 0.7%, the investigators found. Wafer consumption also was linked to pressure ulcer reduction and control of diarrhea.

In addition, eating the wafers improved residents’ appetites, apparently even after the wafers were discontinued. The group that had eaten them gained nearly 4% of their pre-intervention body mass over the course of three months. Residents might have found it appetizing to be able to hold and chew the wafers, which are soft enough even for people with tooth loss, the study authors noted.

“To fight against anorexia, the stimulation of touch (finger food; chewing, even on edentulous gums) and hearing (intra-oral sounds) could be valuable alternatives to sight, smell and taste alterations,” they wrote.

The study involved 175 residents in seven French nursing homes. The authors were affiliated with a variety of institutions, including the Nice University Hospital Department of Dentistry and the MICROALIS Laboratory of the School of Dentistry at University Nice Sophia Antipolis. They reported no ties with or funding from Solidages, the company that makes the wafers.