Linda M. Hengeveld, Jolanda M.A. Boer, Pierrette Gaudreau, Martijn W. Heymans, Carol Jagger, Nuno Mendonça, Marga C. Ocké, Nancy Presse, Stefania Sette, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Heli Tapanainen, Aida Turrini, Suvi M. Virtanen, Hanneke A.H. Wijnhoven, Marjolein Visser

 Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle


Adequate protein intake is required to maintain muscle health, which contributes to the prevention or delay of disability and mortality. At present, the European Food Safety Authority advises older adults to consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (BW). Experts in the field believe that older adults need even more protein (1.0 to 1.2 g/kg BW.) Little is known about the proportion of older adults that does not reach these recommended levels of protein intake.

In this study we estimated the proportion of community-dwelling older adults (≥55 years) that consumed less protein than recommended. We were also interested in whether these proportions differed across subgroups of age, sex, body mass index, education level, living status, appetite and recent weight loss. For example, do women less often meet recommended protein intake levels then men? We used data on 8103 older adults from European and North-American countries.

We found that 22% of the older adults had a protein intake below 0.8 g/kg BW. Nearly half (47%) and three-quarters (71%) of the older adults had a protein intake below 1.0 and 1.2 g/kg BW, respectively. Women, older adults with a higher body mass index and older adults with poor appetite were more likely to have a protein intake below the recommendation. The proportions differed only marginally by subgroups according to age, education level, living status and recent weight loss.

This study shows that a substantial proportion of older adults does not meet the recommended levels of protein intake, which make them at risk for inadequate protein intake and potential health problems. This stresses the need for awareness and for dietary strategies in order to increase protein intake in older adults.


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