Linda M. Hengeveld, Hanneke A.H. Wijnhoven, Margreet R. Olthof, Ingeborg A. Brouwer, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Stephan B. Kritchevsky, Denise K. Houston, Anne B. Newman, Marjolein Visser.

Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. (2019) 00:1-8


Frailty can be described as a fragile health state that makes a person very vulnerable for health problems. Frail older persons are at higher risk for developing mobility problems, becoming institutionalized and losing independence. For older adults and their families, the possibility to postpone or prevent the development of frailty is likely highly desirable.

Diet is one of the modifiable factors that are supposed to contribute to the prevention of frailty in older adults. Moreover, previous studies have shown that many older adults consume a diet that is of insufficient quality (i.e., their diet does not fully conform to national dietary guidelines) or that is low in protein. We investigated whether poor diet quality and low protein intake would increase the risk of developing frailty in the future.

The data are from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, which consists of community-dwelling older adults aged 70 years and over, who live in the areas of Memphis, TN, and Pittsburgh, PA (USA).

We found that older adults with a poor-quality diet had a higher risk of developing frailty compared to older adults with a good-quality diet. We found no relationship between protein intake and risk of frailty. In conclusion, our study suggests that it is important to adhere as much as possible to the national dietary guidelines for older adults to postpone or prevent the development of frailty.

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