Consumption of meat in relation to physical functioning in the Seniors-ENRICA cohort.
BMC Med. 2018 Apr 5 ;16(1):50. Epub 2018 Apr 5. PMID: 29622014
Ellen A Struijk
BACKGROUND: Meat is an important source of high-quality protein and vitamin B but also has a relatively high content of saturated and trans fatty acids. Although protein and vitamin B intake seems to protect people from functional limitations, little is known about the effect of habitual meat consumption on physical function. The objective of this study was to examine the prospective association between the intake of meat (processed meat, red meat, and poultry) and physical function impairment in older adults.
METHODS: Data were collected for 2982 participants in the Seniors-ENRICA cohort, who were aged≥60 years and free of physical function impairment. In 2008-2010, their habitual diet was assessed through a validated computer-assisted face-to-face diet history. Study participants were followed up through 2015 to assess self-reported incident impairment in agility, mobility, and performance-based lower-extremity function.
RESULTS: Over a median follow-up of 5.2 years, we identified 625 participants with impaired agility, 455 with impaired mobility, and 446 with impaired lower-extremity function. After adjustment for potential confounders, processed meat intake was associated with a higher risk of impaired agility (hazard ratio [HR] for highest vs. lowest tertile: 1.33; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.08-1.64; p trend = 0.01) and of impaired lower-extremity function (HR for highest vs. lowest tertile: 1.31; 95% CI: 1.02-1.68; p trend = 0.04). No significant associations were found for red meat and poultry. Replacing one serving per day of processed meat with one serving per day of red meat, poultry, or with other important protein sources (fish, legumes, dairy, and nuts) was associated with lower risk of impaired agility and lower-extremity function.
CONCLUSIONS: A higher consumption of processed meat was associated with a higher risk of impairment in agility and lower-extremity function. Replacing processed meat by other protein sources may slow the decline in physical functioning in older adults.