Nuno Mendonça, Antoneta Granic, John C. Mathers, Tom R. Hill, Mario Siervo, Ashley J. Adamson, Carol Jagger

European Journal of Nutrition 2017 Sep 25. doi: 10.1007/s00394-017-1537-5. [Epub ahead of print]

The very old, those aged 85 years and older, are the fastest growing age group in most western societies and are at especially high risk of malnutrition, as well as loss of muscle mass and strength. The amount of protein that the very old get from their diet, which foods provide the best source of protein and the time of day that such foods are eaten, are all factors that may play important roles in delaying or even preventing malnutrition and such information is essential to develop new food products and public health policies to better tackle the problem of malnutrition. Our study, the Newcastle 85+ Study, was based in North East England, and involved 722 people aged 85 years old, whose diet was estimated by a 24 hour multiple pass recall (people are asked what foods and drinks were consumed in the past 24 hours) on two non-consecutive days. We found that 28% of our population were below the commonly used protein intake target (0.8g of protein per kg of adjusted bodyweight per day) and that this group ate less meat, more cereals and had more non-alcoholic beverages than those who had adequate protein intake. After accounting for other factors, people in the low protein group were more likely to be men, had lower energy intake and fewer teeth. People with low protein also took more of their protein during the morning than those in the adequate protein intake group. This study provides new evidence of the magnitude of low protein intake in the very old, the sources of protein and the diurnal patterning of protein intake.

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