Inadequate protein intake contributes to poor nutritional status, reduced muscle mass, strength and function, and increased mortality. Evaluating differences in protein intake and related health indicators among racial/ethnic groups enables the development of targeted interventions. This study's purpose was to determine differences in protein intake, nutritional status, and muscle strength/function among 273 older African, European, and Hispanic Americans. Protein intake, nutritional status, grip strength, timed-up-and-go (TUG), and chair stand assessments were conducted. Protein intake was significantly greater among Hispanic Americans (0.96 g/kg body weight) followed by European Americans (0.83 g/kg body weight), and African Americans (0.64 g/kg body weight). Intakes by all groups were below recommendations. Low nutritional status, grip strength, chair rise, and TUG scores were observed in African Americans and European American females and were consistent with lower protein intakes. Results show significant differences among the groups and the need for interventions to improve diet and physical health.
Keywords: Muscle function; muscle strength; nutritional status; protein intake; race/ethnicity.