Poor diet quality ups frailty risk in seniors
Poor overall diet quality, particularly low intake of vegetable protein, appears to put elderly adults at greater risk of frailty, a recent study has found.
Using food frequency questionnaires, researchers assessed dietary intake in 2,154 elderly adults (mean age, 74.5±2.8 years; 51.5 percent female). Diet quality was assessed according to the Healthy Eating Index, while energy and protein intake levels were also evaluated. Fried’s five-component frailty phenotype was used to measure frailty status.
At baseline, mean body mass index was 27.2±4.6 kg/m2. Majority (72.9 percent) had medium-quality diet, while 6.5 percent had poor diets. Protein intake <0.8 g/kg of adjusted body weight was reported in 26.5 percent. Weakness, slowness and physical inactivity were present in 26.2 percent, 18.2 percent and 15.1 percent, respectively.
Over a mean follow-up of 3.5 years, there were 277 incident cases of frailty. Cox proportional hazards analysis fully adjusted for confounder showed that having a poor overall diet quality led to a significant 92-percent increase in the risk of developing frailty (hazard ratio [HR], 1.92, 95 percent CI, 1.17–3.17; p<0.05).
A similar effect was observed for medium-quality diets, though significance was not achieved (HR, 1.40, 0.99–1.98).
Notably, restricting the analysis to those who were robust at baseline (n=1,020), a 10-g per day decline in vegetable protein intake led to a significant, 20-percent increase in the risk of developing frailty or prefrailty in 4 years (HR, 1.20, 1.04–1.39; p<0.05). No such effect was reported for total or animal protein intake.