Animal Protein Intake Is Associated with Higher-Level Functional Capacity in Elderly Adults: The Ohasama Study

Authors

  • Eri Imai PhD, RD,

    1. Section of the Dietary Reference Intakes, Department of Nutritional Epidemiology, National Institute of Health and Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan
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  • Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi PhD, MPH, RD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Section of the Dietary Reference Intakes, Department of Nutritional Epidemiology, National Institute of Health and Nutrition, Tokyo, Japan
    • Address correspondence to Megumi Tsubota-Utsugi, Section of the Dietary Reference Intakes, Department of Nutritional Epidemiology, National Institute of Health and Nutrition, Toyama 1–23–1, Shinjyuku-ku, Tokyo 162–8636, Japan. E-mail: mutsugky@nih.go.jp

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  • Masahiro Kikuya MD, PhD,

    1. Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Michihiro Satoh MSc,

    1. Department of Planning for Drug Development and Clinical Evaluation, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Ryuske Inoue MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Medical Informatics, Graduate School of Medicine, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Miki Hosaka MSc,

    1. Department of Planning for Drug Development and Clinical Evaluation, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Hirohito Metoki MD, PhD,

    1. Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Naomi Fukushima MSc,

    1. Division of Community Health Nursing, School of Nursing, Fukushima Medical University, Fukushima, Japan
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  • Ayumi Kurimoto MSc,

    1. Division of Community Health Nursing, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Takuo Hirose PhD,

    1. Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, Collége de France, Paris, France
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  • Kei Asayama MD, PhD,

    1. Studies Coordinating Centre, Division of Hypertension and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation, Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
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  • Yutaka Imai MD, PhD,

    1. Department of Planning for Drug Development and Clinical Evaluation, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
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  • Takayoshi Ohkubo MD, PhD

    1. Department of Planning for Drug Development and Clinical Evaluation, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
    2. Department of Hygiene and Public Health, School of Medicine, Teikyo University, Tokyo, Japan
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Abstract

Objectives

To determine the association between protein intake and risk of higher-level functional decline in older community-dwelling adults.

Design

Prospective.

Setting

Ohasama Town, Japan.

Participants

Residents (N = 1,007; mean age 67.4 ± 5.5) free of functional decline at baseline; follow-up was conducted for 7 years.

Measurements

Nutrient and food intakes were determined using a validated 141-item food frequency questionnaire. Participants were divided into quartiles according to intake levels of total, animal, and plant protein. Subscales of the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology Index of Competence subscales were used to assess higher-level functional decline. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the future risk of higher-level functional decline in relation to protein intake, with lowest protein intake as reference.

Results

During the study period, 24.4% of eligible participants reported declines in higher-level functional capacity. After adjustment for putative confounding factors, men in the highest quartile of animal protein intake had significantly lower risk of higher-level functional decline than those in the lowest quartile (odds ratio (OR) = 0.41, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.20–0.83; P for trend .01). These associations were not seen in women (OR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.41–1.34; P for trend .37). No consistent association was observed between plant protein intake and future higher-level functional decline in either sex.

Conclusion

Higher protein, particularly animal protein, was associated with lower risk of decline in higher-level functional capacity in older men. Animal protein intake may be a modifiable indicator for early detection and prevention of higher-level functional decline in elderly adults.

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