Background: The prospective association between protein intake and falls has been little studied. We assessed this association in a Spanish community-dwelling cohort.
Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of 2464 men and women 60 years or older who were recruited in 2008-2010 and followed up through 2012. At baseline, the habitual protein intake was determined with a validated dietary history. At the end of follow-up, participants reported the number of falls experienced in the preceding year. Participants were stratified by an unintentional weight loss of 4.5 kg or more. Logistic regression was used after adjustment for the main confounders.
Results: A total of 522 participants (21.2%) experienced at least one fall. The odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) of falling for the three increasing tertiles of total protein intake were 1.00, 0.86 (0.66-1.11), and 0.93 (0.70-1.24) (p for trend = 0.14). However, a statistically significant interaction with unintentional weight loss was observed for the association between protein intake and fall risk (p for interaction = 0.004). Among 163 participants (6.6%) who experienced unintentional weight loss, the ORs (95% CI) of falling for the three increasing tertiles of total protein intake were 1.00, 0.68 (0.21-2.23), and 0.23 (0.05-1.08) (p for trend = 0.01).
Conclusion: No protective association between protein intake and fall risk in older adults was found. However, high total protein intake tended to confer substantial benefits to participants who experienced an unintentional weight loss of 4.5 kg or more in the preceding year. J Am Geriatr Soc 67:329-335, 2019.
Keywords: animal protein intake; falls; older adults; protein intake; unintentional weight loss; vegetable protein intake.
© 2018 The American Geriatrics Society.