Background: Lower protein intake in older adults is associated with loss of muscle mass and strength. The present study aimed to provide a pooled estimate of the overall prevalence of protein intake below recommended (according to different cut-off values) among community-dwelling older adults, both within the general older population and within specific subgroups. Methods: As part of the PRevention Of Malnutrition In Senior Subjects in the EU (PROMISS) project, a meta-analysis was performed using data from four cohorts (from the Netherlands, UK, Canada, and USA) and four national surveys [from the Netherlands, Finland (two), and Italy]. Within those studies, data on protein and energy intake of community-dwelling men and women aged ≥55 years were obtained by either a food frequency questionnaire, 24 h recalls administered on 2 or 3 days, or food diaries administered on 3 days. Protein intake below recommended was based on the recommended dietary allowance of 0.8 g/kg body weight (BW)/d, by using adjusted BW (aBW) instead of actual BW. Cut-off values of 1.0 and 1.2 were applied in additional analyses. Prevalences were also examined for subgroups according to sex, age, body mass index (BMI), education level, appetite, living status, and recent weight loss. Results: The study sample comprised 8107 older persons. Mean ± standard deviation protein intake ranged from 64.3 ± 22.3 (UK) to 80.6 ± 23.7 g/d [the Netherlands (cohort)] or from 0.94 ± 0.38 (USA) to 1.17z ± 0.30 g/kg aBW/d (Italy) when related to BW. The overall pooled prevalence of protein intake below recommended was 21.5% (95% confidence interval: 14.0–30.1), 46.7% (38.3–55.3), and 70.8% (65.1–76.3) using the 0.8, 1.0, and 1.2 cut-off value, respectively. A higher prevalence was observed among women, individuals with higher BMI, and individuals with poor appetite. The prevalence differed only marginally by age, education level, living status, and recent weight loss. Conclusions: In community-dwelling older adults, the prevalence of protein intake below the current recommendation of 0.8 g/kg aBW/d is substantial (14–30%) and increases to 65–76% according to a cut-off value of 1.2 g/kg aBW/d. To what extent the protein intakes are below the requirements of these older people warrants further investigation.
- Old age