BACKGROUND: Nutrition and particularly protein play a role in optimally stimulating muscle protein synthesis and maintaining function. Animal foods are excellent sources of high-quality protein. Therefore, we aimed to determine the association between the consumption of animal foods and mobility limitations in young-old adults.
METHODS: The analytic sample was composed of 2860 community-dwelling adults aged 50 and over from a nationally representative longitudinal cohort of Portuguese adults who were followed up to 2.7 years. An animal food intake score was derived from the frequency of consumption of meat, fish, and dairy products. Mobility limitations were defined as the difficulty standing up from a chair, walking, and climbing stairs. To determine the association between animal food intake and mobility limitations mixed effects logistic models were fitted.
RESULTS: Associations between quartiles of animal food intake and mobility limitations (for example, for walking outdoors Quartile 4 v Q1: OR: 0.29; 95%CI: 0.15, 0.56) in unadjusted models were present, but there was no difference in the rate of change of mobility limitations over time in unadjusted models. These associations were no longer present when models were adjusted for sociodemographic, lifestyle and health variables. For example, participants in Q4 of animal food intake were not more or less likely to have difficulty climbing stairs than those in Q1 (OR: 0.95; 95%CI: 0.65, 1.38) nor have a different rate of change over time (OR: 0.86; 95%CI: 0.54, 1.37).
CONCLUSIONS: No convincing evidence was found to support an effect of animal foods intake measured at baseline on self-reported mobility limitations over a short period of time.