Dietary Protein Intake in Older Adults from Ethnic Minorities in the Netherlands, a Mixed Methods Approach

Overdevest, Elvera; Dorhout, Berber G.; Nicolaou, Mary; Valkengoed, Irene G.M. Van; Haveman-Nies, Annemien; Oztürk, Halime; Groot, Lisette C.P.G.M. De; Tieland, Michael; Weijs, Peter J.M.


Optimizing protein intake is a novel strategy to prevent age associated loss of muscle mass and strength in older adults. Such a strategy is still missing for older adults from ethnic minority populations. Protein intake in these populations is expected to be different in comparison to the majority of the population due to several socio-cultural factors. Therefore, the present study examined the dietary protein intake and underlying behavioral and environmental factors affecting protein intake among older adults from ethnic minorities in the Netherlands. We analyzed frequency questionnaire (FFQ) data from the Healthy Life in an Urban Setting (HELIUS) cohort using ANCOVA to describe dietary protein intake in older adults from ethnic minorities in the Netherlands (N = 1415, aged >55 years, African Surinamese, South Asian Surinamese, Moroccan, and Turkish). Additionally, we performed focus groups among older adults from the same ethnic minority populations (N = 69) to discover behavioral and environmental factors affecting protein intake; 40–60% of the subjects did not reach minimal dietary protein recommendations needed to maintain muscle mass (1.0 g/kg bodyweight per day (BW/day)), except for Turkish men (where it was 91%). The major sources of protein originated from animal products and were ethnic specific. Participants in the focus groups showed little knowledge and awareness about protein and its role in aging. The amount of dietary protein and irregular eating patterns seemed to be the major concern in these populations. Optimizing protein intake in these groups requires a culturally sensitive approach, which accounts for specific protein product types and sociocultural factors.