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Community-Dwelling Older People’s Dietary Habits, Calorie Intake and Calorie Expenditure and their Relationship with Frailty

Aim: to describe dietary habits and calorie expenditure in a community-dwelling older population, as well as to assess the relationship between these habits and frailty and pre-frailty status.

Methods: An observational, population-based, cross-sectional study was performed among community-dwelling people aged 75 years and older. Frailty was established according to Fried criteria, dietary habits were assessed by a validated food frequency consumption questionnaire, physical activity and calorie expenditure were estimated through the International Physical Activity Questionnaire.

Results: A total of 324 people were recruited (170 men and 154 women), with a mean age of 80.1 (3.5) years, and 94.6% considered as well nourished. In women, BMI was higher in frail and pre-frail than in robust (30, 30, and 26, respectively; p < 0.001). Study sample tended to have a diet rich in nuts, fruits and vegetables. No differences in protein intake between frail and non-frail persons were observed, but frail persons had a lower intake of salads, nuts, fruits and fibre, as well as alcohol. Frail persons had a lower calorie intake and much lower calorie expenditure than non-frail persons, resulting in a greater positive energy balance.

Conclusion: In an older population with sufficient calorie and protein intake, lower micronutrient intake of nuts, fruits and vegetables is a risk factor for frailty. Low physical activity is also related to frailty and predisposes to positive energy balance and obesity. Health professionals must encourage older people to exercise regularly and maintain good dietary habits including both good calorie and protein intake and good micronutrient intake of fruits and vegetables.


Mateu Serra-Prat, Mònica Papiol, Judit Vico, Isabel Lorenzo and Mireia Arús

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