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Meal frequency and vegetable intake does not predict the development of frailty in older adults

Journal article
Authors Julie Johannesson
Elisabeth Rothenberg
Susanne Gustafsson
Frode Slinde
Published in Nutrition & Health
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 21-28
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Pages 21-28
Language en
Keywords Aged 80 and over, meal frequency, vegetable intake, frailty, community-dwelling,
Subject categories Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences, Nutrition and Dietetics


Background: Frailty is considered highly prevalent among the aging population. Fruit and vegetable intake is associated with positive health outcomes across the life-span; however, the relationship with health benefits among older adults has received little attention. Aim: The aim was to examine if a relationship exists between meal frequency or frequency of vegetable intake and the development of frailty in a population of older adults. Methods: A total of 371 individuals, 80 years or older, from the study ‘Elderly Persons in the Risk Zone’ were included. Data was collected in the participants’ home by face-to-face interviews up to 24 months after the intervention. Baseline data were calculated using Chi2-test; statistical significance was accepted at the 5% level. Binary logistic regression was used for the relationship between meal frequency or vegetable intake and frailty. Results: Mean meal frequency was 4.2 ± 0.9 meals per day; women seem to have a somewhat higher meal frequency than men (p=0.02); 57% of the participants had vegetables with at least one meal per day. No significant relationship was found between meal frequency or vegetable intake and frailty at 12 or 24 months follow-ups. Conclusions: Among this group of older adults (80+), meal frequency was slightly higher among women than men, and just over half of the participants had vegetables with at least one meal a day. The risk of developing frailty was not associated with meal frequency or vegetable intake. The questions in this study were meant as indicators for healthy food habits.

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