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Br J Nutr. 2003 Dec;90(6):1107-15.

Daily protein intakes and eating patterns in young and elderly French.

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  • 1Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Station de Recherches sur la Viande, Equipe Propriétés Sensorielles et Préférences, Theix, 63 122 Saint Genès Champanelle, France.


An adequate level of protein intake is required to limit the gradual body protein loss observed during ageing. Different factors (cohort age, sex, life conditions) may modify protein intake and distribution. However the precise amounts, as well as their daily distribution which affects protein utilisation and N retention, are unknown in both young and elderly individuals. The hypothesis was tested that protein intake and its distribution over daily meals could be different between the young and elderly. The consumption of six different protein-rich food groups by 292 healthy individuals aged 20-30 and 65-75 years was determined throughout each day for 1 week. The data of the total protein intake and protein intakes at each meal were analysed by ANOVA for each sex separately, using age group as the independent factor. The average protein intake of men was lower in the older age group whilst the opposite trend was seen in women. The distribution of protein intake was different between the two age groups: 56.5 % of the daily protein was eaten at lunch by the elderly but only 47 % (P<0.0001) by the younger subjects. In the elderly subjects, those eating larger amounts consumed a greater proportion of protein-rich foods at dinner than those eating small amounts (30.4 v. 26.2 %, P=0.05). A high level of protein intake was related to a higher meat-product consumption in both the elderly and young individuals. In conclusion, the pattern of protein intake differs significantly between age groups and sexes.

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