Development of a Novel Six-Month Nutrition Intervention for a Randomized Trial in Older Men with Mobility Limitations

J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(10):1081-1088. doi: 10.1007/s12603-017-0990-4.


Objectives: Nutrition impacts the development of sarcopenia and protein intake is an important modulator of skeletal muscle mass loss in older people. The Optimizing Protein Intake in Older Men with Mobility Limitation (OPTIMEN) Trial was designed to assess the independent and combined effects of higher protein intake and a promyogenic agent, testosterone, on lean body mass, muscle strength and physical function in older men with mobility disability. The purpose of this paper is to describe the experimental design and nutrition intervention, including techniques used by research dietitians to develop and deliver energy and protein-specific meals to the homes of community-dwelling participants. Strategies to enhance long-term dietary compliance are detailed.

Design: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled six-month intervention trial.

Setting: Participants were recruited from Boston MA USA and surrounding communities.

Participants: Older men who were mobility-limited (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) 3-10) and consuming less protein (<0.83 g/kg/day) were recruited for this study.

Intervention: Here we report the successful implementation of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel group, randomized controlled trial with a 6-month intervention period among community-living men, age 65 years and older with a mobility limitation. A controlled feeding plan was used to deliver required energy intakes and prescribed protein quantities of 0.8 or 1.3 grams/kilogram/day (g/kg/d) in three meals plus snacks and supplements. A 2x2 factorial design was used to assess the effects of protein level alone and in combination with testosterone (vs. placebo) on changes in lean body mass (primary outcome), muscle strength, and physical function.

Results: A total of 154 men met the eligibility criteria; 112 completed a 2-week run-in period designed to evaluate compliance with the nutrition intervention. Of these, 92 subjects met compliance eligibility criteria and agreed to be randomized; 85% completed the full trial. The study successfully delivered three meals per day to subjects, with a high degree of compliance and subject satisfaction. Overall self-reported compliance rates were 80% and 93% for the meals and supplements, respectively. Details of compliance strategies are discussed.

Conclusion: This community-based study design may serve as a model for longer-term nutritional interventions requiring monitoring of dietary compliance in a home-based feeding and supplementation trial.

Trial registration: NCT01275365.

Keywords: Protein intake; elderly; meal provision; nutrition design.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Nutritional Status / physiology*
  • Sarcopenia / physiopathology*

Associated data