Protein enrichment of familiar foods as an innovative strategy to increase protein intake in institutionalized elderly

Abstract

Objective

To increase the protein intake of older adults, protein enrichment of familiar foods and drinks might be an effective and attractive alternative for oral nutritional supplements (ONS). We performed a pilot study to test whether these products could help institutionalized elderly to reach a protein intake of 1.2 gram per kg body weight per day (g/kg/d).

Design

Intervention study with one treatment group (no control group). Dietary assessment was done before and at the end of a 10-day intervention.

Setting

Two care facilities in Gelderland, the Netherlands: a residential care home and a rehabilitation center.

Participants

22 elderly subjects (13 women, 9 men; mean age 83.0±9.4 years).

Intervention

We used a variety of newly developed protein enriched regular foods and drinks, including bread, soups, fruit juices, and instant mashed potatoes.

Measurements

Dietary intake was assessed on two consecutive days before and at the end of the intervention, using food records filled out by research assistants. Energy and macronutrient intake was calculated using the 2013 Dutch food composition database. Changes in protein intake were evaluated using paired t-tests.

Results

Protein intake increased by 11.8 g/d (P=0.003); from 0.96 to 1.14 g/kg/d (P=0.002). This increase is comparable to protein provided by one standard portion of ONS. The intake of energy and other macronutrients did not change significantly. At the end of the intervention more elderly reached a protein intake level of 1.2 g/kg/d than before (9 vs 4). Protein intake significantly increased during breakfast (+3.7 g) and during the evening (+2.2 g).

Conclusion

Including familiar protein enriched foods and drinks in the menu helped to meet protein recommendations in institutionalized elderly.

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Correspondence to Janne Beelen.

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Beelen, J., de Roos, N.M. & de Groot, L.C.P.G.M. Protein enrichment of familiar foods as an innovative strategy to increase protein intake in institutionalized elderly. J Nutr Health Aging 21, 173–179 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-016-0733-y

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Key words

  • Protein enriched products
  • protein intake
  • the elderly
  • rehabilitation