US adults do not consume enough protein, study warns

New research in the Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging reveals that older people in the United States do not consume enough protein. Insufficient protein is a marker of poor diet and health overall, the study also suggests.
senior man eating

A new study suggests that adults over the age of 50 may not be getting enough protein.

With age, the human body loses muscle mass. Sarcopenia, or the age-related gradual loss of muscle function, can slash muscle strength by around 50 percent.

Also, loss of muscle mass and strength can lead to poor overall quality of life and increase the risk of falls and fractures in older age.

So, as we age, intake of protein becomes increasingly important. However, few adults consume as much protein as they should, for a variety of reasons.

Older people often lose their appetite with age, have lower energy needs, or sometimes eat less due to financial and social difficulties.

However, researchers do not know precisely how much protein older adults consume, so a new study aimed to fill this gap in research.

Christopher A. Taylor, Ph.D. — a registered dietitian and associate professor at the Ohio State University in Columbus — is the last and corresponding author of the new study.

‘Still a big gap in adults’ protein intake’

Taylor and his team examined data from the 2005–2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to investigate the protein intake of 11,680 adults aged 51 and above.

The scientists looked at the link between protein intake, dietary patterns, and physical function in these older adults. They stratified the study sample, used the Healthy Eating Index to assess the quality of the adults’ diet, and weighted the data analyses “to create a nationally representative sample.”

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