Diet with a combination of high protein and high total antioxidant capacity is strongly associated with low prevalence of frailty among old Japanese women: a multicenter cross-sectional study

Nutr J. 2017 May 12;16(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s12937-017-0250-9.


Background: The intake of protein and antioxidants has been inversely associated with frailty, individually. However, to our knowledge, no study has evaluated these associations in considering antioxidants or protein intakes as respective confounders. Further, the cooperative effect of dietary protein and antioxidants on frailty has not been investigated. Therefore, we examined the association of high protein and high dietary total antioxidant capacity (TAC) with frailty under the adjustment for dietary TAC or protein intake, respectively. The association between the combination of high dietary protein and high dietary TAC and frailty was also investigated.

Methods: A total of 2108 grandmothers or acquaintances of dietetic students aged 65 years and older participated in this cross-sectional multicenter study conducted in 85 dietetic schools in Japan. Dietary variables, including protein intake, and dietary TAC were estimated from a validated brief-type self-administered diet history questionnaire. Frailty was defined as a score of three or more points obtained from the following four components: slowness and weakness (two points), exhaustion, low physical activity, and unintentional weight loss.

Results: Median (interquartile range) age of the present subjects was 74 (71-78) years. Multivariate adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for frailty in the highest compared to the lowest tertile were 0.66 (0.49, 0.87) for total protein intake (P for trend = 0.003) and 0.51 (0.37, 0.69) for dietary TAC (P for trend <0.0001) after adjustment for dietary TAC or total protein intake, respectively. The OR of frailty for the group with both the highest tertiles of total protein intake and dietary TAC was markedly lower (multivariate adjusted OR [95% CIs]: 0.27 [0.16, 0.44]; P <0.0001) compared to the group with the lowest tertile of protein intake and the lowest tertile of dietary TAC.

Conclusions: Both protein intake and dietary TAC were independently inversely associated with frailty among old Japanese women. Further, a diet with the combination of high dietary protein and high dietary TAC was strongly inversely associated with the prevalence of frailty in this population. To select food combinations that allow for an increase of both protein and antioxidants in diet according to the local food culture and dietary habits may be an effective strategy for frailty prevention.

Keywords: Brief-type self-administered diet history questionnaire; Frailty; Old Japanese women; Protein; Total antioxidant capacity.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Asian People
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, High-Protein*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietetics
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Frailty / epidemiology*
  • Frailty / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Weight Loss


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Proteins