Iuliano S, Poon S, Wang X, Bui M, Seeman E. - - Br J Nutr 2017; 117(1): 142-7

Dairy food supplementation may reduce malnutrition risk in institutionalised elderly

Malnutrition in institutionalised elderly increases morbidity and care costs. Meat and dairy foods are high-quality protein sources so adequate intakes may reduce malnutrition risk. We aimed to determine whether inadequate intakes of meat and dairy foods contribute to malnutrition in institutionalised elderly. This cross-sectional study involved 215 elderly residents (70·2 % females, mean age 85·8 years) from twenty-one aged-care facilities in Melbourne, Australia. Dietary intake was assessed using observed plate waste. Food groups and serving sizes were based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Nutrient content was analysed using a computerised nutrient analysis software (Xyris). Malnutrition risk was assessed using the Mini Nutrition Assessment (MNA) tool; a score between 24 and 30 indicates normal nutritional status. Data were analysed using robust regression. Mean MNA score was 21·6 (sd 2·7). In total, 68 % of residents were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition (MNA score<=23·5). Protein intake was 87 (sd 28) % of the Australian recommended dietary intake (RDI). Consumption averaged 1 serving each of dairy foods and meat daily. Number of dairy and meat servings related to proportion of protein RDI (both P&lt;0·001), with the former contributing 13 % and the latter 12 % to protein RDI. Number of dairy servings (P&lt;0·001), but not meat servings increased MNA score; each dairy serving was associated with a 1 point increase in MNA score so based on current intakes, on average if residents consumed the recommend four dairy servings (addition of 3 points to MNA score) they would achieve normal nutrition status (&gt;24 points). Provision of meat and dairy foods did not meet recommended levels. On the basis of current dietary intakes in aged-care residents, increasing consumption of dairy foods to the recommended four servings daily ensures protein adequacy and may reduce malnutrition risk in institutionalised elderly, and so reduce risk of comorbidities and costs associated with malnutrition.

Keywords: Aged-care facilities Dairy foods Elderly Malnutrition Mini Nutrition Assessment