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Dietary protein intake and transition between frailty states in octogenarians living in New Zealand

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Nuno Mendonca, Professor Dame Louise Robinson, Professor Ngaire Kerse



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


© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Adequate nutritional status may influence progression to frailty. The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of frailty and examine the relationship between dietary protein intake and the transition between frailty states and mortality in advanced age. We used data from a longitudinal cohort study of Māori (80–90 years) and non-Māori (85 years). Dietary assessments (24-h multiple pass dietary recalls) were completed at the second year of follow-up (wave 2 and forms the baseline in this study). Frailty was defined using the Fried Frailty criteria. Multi-state modelling examined the association of protein intake and transitions between frailty states and death over four years. Over three quarters of participants were pre-frail or frail at baseline (62% and 16%, respectively). Those who were frail had a higher co-morbidity (p < 0.05), where frailty state changed, 44% showed a worsening of frailty status (robust → pre-frail or pre-frail → frail). Those with higher protein intake (g/kg body weight/day) were less likely to transition from robust to pre-frail [Hazard Ratio (95% Confidence Interval): 0.28 (0.08–0.91)] but also from pre-frail to robust [0.24 (0.06–0.93)]. Increased protein intake was associated with lower risk of transitioning from pre-frailty to death [0.19 (0.04–0.80)], and this association was moderated by energy intake [0.22 (0.03–1.71)]. Higher protein intake in this sample of octogenarians was associated with both better and worse outcomes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Teh R, Mendonca N, Muru-Lanning M, MacDonell S, Robinson L, Kerse N

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nutrients

Year: 2021

Volume: 13

Issue: 8

Online publication date: 19/08/2021

Acceptance date: 12/08/2021

Date deposited: 07/09/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2072-6643

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/nu13082843


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Funder referenceFunder name
HRC 09/068B