The nutritional intake of a free-living healthy French population : a four-year follow-up.J Nutr Health Aging. 2000; 4(2):77-80.JN
To contribute to a better definition of the nutritional requirements of the healthy elderly and to improved knowledge the effects of age on these requirements.
We studied the nutritional intake of 96 elderly persons who had met criteria of good health status in 1993 at a four-year interval. The nutritional intake of the elderly subjects who remained healthy during the four-year interval (18 men and 64 women), was considered to globally correspond to their nutritional needs. The nutritional intake was evaluated by a three-day food record.
The mean baseline weight of the subjects who remained in good health during the four years was 72,6 +/- 9,5 kg for men and 60,1 +/- 9,3 kg for women. In four years, mean weight remained globally stable. But in cross-sectional analysis, weight tended to decrease with the age of the subjects. This decrease was significant for women in 1993. Mean baseline intake was nearly 29 kcal/kg. Longitudinal and cross-sectional analyses showed that it changed only slightly with age. Though global energy intake varied slighlty in four years, we have observed some changes in the composition of this caloric intake. For men and women, protein intake tended to decrease in four years (respectively -0,4% and -0,6%), carbohydrate intake to decrease (respectively -1,1% and -2,7%) and fat intake to increase (respectively +2,1% and +2,9%). These variations were not significant except for fat and carbohydrate intakes in women. In 1993, for a majority of subjects, the intakes of iron, and vitamins C and B12 were higher and the intakes of calcium, zinc, vitamins A, B1, B6 and B9 were lower than the French recommendations. In four years, mean intake did not change significantly, except for calcium intake in women (-8,8%).
In this study, healthy aging was associated with a mean caloric intake close to 29 kcal/kg which is near the upper limits of recommendations (between 25 and 30 kcal/kg/d). These intakes, like those of macronutrients and micronutrients changed little with advancing age. These results suggest that the needs of the elderly remain quite stable with aging. Nevertheless a tendency to weight loss with aging is observed, especially in older subjects, suggesting that even if food intake contributes to the maintenance of healthy aging, aging processes are multidimensional and frailty that is often associated with weight loss is ineluctable for older subjects.