Background: The present systematic review and meta-analysis investigated the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between protein intake and frailty in older adults. Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies that investigated the association between protein intake and frailty in older adults. Cross-sectional, case-control, and longitudinal cohort studies that investigated the association between protein intake and frailty as a primary or secondary outcome in people aged 60+ years were included. Studies published in languages other than English, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish were excluded. Studies were retrieved on 31 January 2022. Results: Twelve cross-sectional and five longitudinal studies that investigated 46,469 community-dwelling older adults were included. The meta-analysis indicated that absolute, bodyweight-adjusted, and percentage of protein relative to total energy consumption were not cross-sectionally associated with frailty. However, frail older adults consumed significantly less animal-derived protein than robust people. Finally, high protein consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of frailty. Conclusions: Our pooled analysis indicates that protein intake, whether absolute, adjusted, or relative to total energy intake, is not significantly associated with frailty in older adults. However, we observed that frail older adults consumed significantly less animal protein than their robust counterparts.
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