N° 19 | March 2017

Consumption of fruit and vegetables and risk of frailty: a dose-response analysis of three prospective cohorts of community-dwelling older adults

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Consumption of fruit and vegetables during adulthood has been associated with a decreased risk of several chronic diseases (i.e. heart disease, stroke or cancer) and a decreased mortality risk. However, very few studies have evaluated the potential health benefits of consuming these foods among older adults. In this context, our study aimed to evaluate the potential dose-response association between fruit and vegetables consumption and risk of frailty among community-dwelling older adults.

3 independent cohorts of community-dwelling older adults

We used data from 3 independent European cohorts:

  • the Seniors-ENRICA cohort (n = 1872),
  • the Three-City (3C) Bordeaux cohort(n = 581), and
  • the Integrated Multidisciplinary Approach (AMI) cohort (n = 473),

and meta-analyzed their results using random-effect models. At baseline, information on fruit and vegetable consumption was assessed with a validated computerized diet history in the Seniors-ENRICA cohort, and with a semi-quantitative foodfrequency questionnaire in the 3C Bordeaux and AMI cohorts.  A portion of fruit was defined as 120g and a portion of vegetables as 150g. Incident frailty was defined as the presence of at least three of five Fried criteria:

  • exhaustion,
  • low physical activity,
  • muscle weakness,
  • slowness and
  • unintentional weight loss.

Lower risk of frailty with 3 portions of fruit/day and 2 portions of vegetables/ day
Our results showed an inverse dose-response relation between fruit and vegetables intake and risk of frailty. Although decreased risks were observed starting at three portions of fruit and vegetables per day, the strongest association was obtained with at least five portions (three portions of fruit/day and two portions of vegetables/ day). We also observed that fruit intake was inversely associated with risk of exhaustion, low physical activity and slow walking speed; while vegetable intake was inversely associated with risk of exhaustion and unintentional weight loss.

Consumption of FV is associated with lower risk of frailty, and most benefit is obtained with three portions of fruit/day and two portions of vegetables/day. Public health messages should inform older adults to consume at least three portions of fruit and vegetables per day

García-Esquinas E, Rahi B, Peres K, Colpo M, Dartigues JF, Bandinelli S, Feart C, Rodríguez-Artalejo F. Consumption of fruit and vegetables and risk of frailty: a dose-response analysis of 3 prospective cohorts of community-dwelling older adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jul;104(1):132-42.

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