More than half of South Yorkshire’s elderly need more protein

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More than half of South Yorkshire’s elderly people need more protein to stay healthy, according to a new study from the University of Sheffield.

It was discovered less than 50 per cent of participants met current UK recommendations of consuming 0.75 grams of protein per kilogram of their body weight per day.

The research, published in Geriatrics, by the Healthy Lifespan Institute, assessed the diets of 256 older adults aged between 65 and 89 years old in the county.

It found that for optimal muscle repair the intake should be higher than UK recommendations. 

According to their results older people should consume 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day but less than 15 per cent of the study group met this recommendation.

Dr Bernard Corfe, Senior Lecturer in Oncology and Principal Investigator in Molecular Gastroenterology, at the University of Sheffield, said: “We know protein consumption, especially when combined with exercise, helps to slow down the loss of muscle mass and strength that comes with ageing.

“Inadequate protein intake contributes to muscle wastage, impacting physical function and increasing the risk of frailty and mortality through falls.” 

The researchers indicate that the participants could benefit from increasing their daily protein, especially early in the morning when consumption was low.

Dr Elizabeth Williams, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition at the University of Sheffield, said: “Frailty and related musculoskeletal problems cost the UK an estimated £7 billion per year, so never has the maintenance of healthy lean body mass been so important for a healthy active life as we age.

“We know the national guidelines do not necessarily reflect the increased requirements older adults have to maintain their muscle mass, so a useful strategy for people of mid-to-older age is to include a source of protein with every meal.”

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Written by Ben Bruce

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