A recent study conducted in the Netherlands found that dietary intervention in malnourished, older adults reduced their likelihood of falling.
Researchers studying elderly patients (n=210) compared their nutritional intake to the number of times they fell during a 3-month period after being discharged from an acute care hospital. Eligible patients were aged 60 years or older and recently had been admitted to various hospital departments for a minimum of 2 days and were classified as malnourished.
For study purposes researchers identified malnourished as patients having a BMI of 20.0 kg/m2 or less and specific rates of unintentional weight loss within the last 1- and 6-month periods. Patients were then randomly assigned to either the intervention group (n=105), which included an energy- and protein-rich diet, two additional servings per day of a nutritional supplement, 400 IU vitamin D3 daily, and telephone counseling from a dietitian, or the control group (n=105).
Study results showed that 10% of the intervention group had fallen (16 falls among 10 patients) within the 3-month post-discharge period, compared with 23% of the control group (HR=0.41; 95% CI, 0.19-0.86), in which 41 fall incidents were recorded among 24 patients. The researchers also found significantly higher intake levels of energy, protein, and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the intervention group.
“Significantly fewer falls were seen in malnourished elderly patients receiving short-term nutritional intervention consisting of [oral nutritional supplements], calcium and vitamin D, and dietetic counseling,” the researchers said. “This is one of the first studies showing these effects in such a short period.”