, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 295-301

Minimal effect on energy intake by additional evening meal for frail elderly service flat residents — A pilot study

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Background: Nutritional problems are common in frail elderly individuals receiving municipal care.Objective: To evaluate if an additional evening meal could improve total daily food intake, nutritional status, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in frail elderly service flat (SF) residents.Design: Out of 122 residents in two SF complexes, 60 subjects agreed to participate, of which 49 subjects (median 84 (79–90) years, (25th–75th percentile)) completed the study. For six months 23 residents in one SF complex were served 530 kcal in addition to their regular meals, i.e. intervention group (I-group). Twenty-six residents in the other SF building were controls (C-group). Nutritional status, energy and nutrient intake, length of night time fast, cognitive function and HRQOL was assessed before and after the intervention.Results: At the start, the Mini Nutritional Assessment classified 27% as malnourished and 63% as at risk for malnutrition, with no difference between the groups. After six months the median body weight was unchanged in the I-group, +0.6 (−1.7 - +1.6) kg (p=0.72) and the C-group −0.6 (−2.0 - +0.5) kg (p=0.15). Weight change ranged from −13% to +15%. The evening meal improved the protein and carbohydrate intake (p< 0.01) but the energy intake increased by only 180 kcal/day (p=0.15). The night time fast decreased in the I-group from 15.0 (13.0–16.0) to 13.0 (12.0–14.0) hours (p< 0.05). There was no significant difference in cognitive function or HRQOL between the groups.Conclusion: Nine out of ten frail elderly SF residents had nutritional problems. Serving an additional evening meal increased the protein and carbohydrate intake, but the meal had no significant effect on energy intake, body weight or HRQOL. The variation in outcome within each study group was large.