Yung Hung, Hanneke A. H. Wijnhoven, Marjolein Visser and Wim Verbeke

Nutrients 2019, 11(4), 777;

European older adults have been studied according to their appetite and protein intake profiles, and the relevant dietary and physical activity behavioural determinants were identified. A survey with 1,825 older adults aged 65 years or above in five European countries (Netherlands, United Kingdom, Finland, Spain and Poland) was conducted in June 2017.

Older adults with a poor appetite and lower level of protein intake is characterized by a larger share of people aged 70 years or above, living in the UK or Finland, having an education below tertiary level, who reported some or severe financial difficulties, having less knowledge about dietary protein and being fussier about food. This group also tends to have a higher risk of malnutrition in general, oral-health related problems, experience more difficulties in mobility and meal preparation, lower confidence in their ability to engage in physical activities in difficult situations, and a lower readiness to follow dietary advice. Therefore, effective dietary strategies to increase protein intake should take into account sensory properties, familiarity, affordability, accessibility and convenience.

Consumption of certain foods at a certain moment of the day and physical activity level or pattern were associated with a lower risk of having lower protein intake. Low level of physical activity emerged as a risk factor for having a lower protein intake in older adults with poor appetite, and vigorous physical activities between lunch and dinner were associated with a lower risk in older adults with good appetite.

This study provides an overview and highlights the similarities and differences in older adults’ profiles, as well as the challenges in promoting healthy ageing regarding protein intake. Recommendations for optimal dietary and physical activity strategies to prevent protein malnutrition were derived, discussed and tailored according to older adults’ profiles.

You can also read the scientific article here.