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Inadequacy of protein intake in older UK adults

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Emma Stevenson, Dr Liz Williams



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 by the authors. The current dietary recommendation for protein intake in the UK is 0.75 g/kg/day, however, this population-wide recommendation does not necessarily reflect altered requirements for older adults to maintain muscle protein synthesis, nor does it encompass the potential impact of intake timing. Optimal muscle protein synthesis in older adults requires both higher intake requirements and a distribution of protein intake above a 25 g threshold, three times across the day. This study aimed to describe the protein intake of older adults in a UK region and compare the results to recommendations. The study re-assessed two existing datasets with rich diet information for older adults in the South Yorkshire area. Data were extracted from food diaries of 256 adults aged between 65 and 89 years old (mean ± SD 72.4 ± 5.3 years). Quantity and timing of intake were coded using Nutritics software and compared to recommendations. The relationship between body mass index (BMI), age, and protein intake was explored. Fewer than 50% of the participants met current UK recommendations (0.75 g/kg/day) and fewer than 15% met the ESPEN 1.2 g/kg/day agespecific recommendation. Only one participant met the 25 g/meal recommendation across three meals. These findings suggest that the older adult population is not achieving recommendations to maintain muscle protein synthesis. Nonetheless it identifies several straightforward opportunities for improvement, notably elevation of morning intake.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Morris S, Cater JD, Green MA, Johnstone AM, Brunstrom JM, Stevenson EJ, Williams EA, Corfe BM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Geriatrics

Year: 2020

Volume: 5

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 12/02/2020

Acceptance date: 03/02/2020

Date deposited: 02/04/2020

ISSN (electronic): 2308-3417

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/geriatrics5010006


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Funder referenceFunder name
BB/P023886/1Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)