Protein intake and transitions between frailty states and to death in very old adults: The Newcastle 85+ Study
Nuno Mendonça, Andrew Kingston, Antoneta Granic, Carol Jagger.
Age and Ageing, afz142, https://doi.org/10.1093/ageing/afz142
Frailty is a clinical syndrome defined as an increased vulnerability to recover after a health shock. Pre-frailty and frailty are estimated to be present in 42% and 11% of community‐dwelling older adults respectively, and both increase with age. Frail older adults are at increased risk of disability, hospitalisation, care home admission and death. In this study we have used five criteria: muscle weakness, slow walking speed, low physical activity, exhaustion, and unintentional weight loss to define frailty. Malnutrition is central to all these criteria and it might be that a good intake of dietary protein is a viable strategy to change the progression of frailty in older adults by slowing down the progressive loss of muscle mass and physical function. We used data from a study on 700 very old adults that turned 85 years old in 2006/2007 living in North East England and we followed them until they were 90. Protein intake was estimated with a 24-hour multiple pass recall (people were asked what foods and drinks were consumed in the past 24 hours) on two different occasions in 2006/2007. We found that participants with higher protein intake were less likely to become frail if they were pre-frail to begin with. This was also true for those who had protein intake higher than 0.8 or 1.0 grams per kilogram of adjusted bodyweight. Energy intake seems to play an important role in this relationship between protein and frailty.