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Adding Dairy to Senior Diets Reduces Falls and Fractures
BMJ 2021;375:n2364 doi:https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2364
This RCT of 27 Australian care facilities of 7,195 older adults (mean age ~85) compared adding servings of dairy to their diet to determine health outcomes, in particular falls. At baseline, they all had similar vitamin D replacements and consumed on average 689 mg of calcium per day and 57 grams of protein per day.
The intervention group were given an additional 3.5 servings per day of dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese) which contained an additional 562 mg of calcium and 12 g of protein, raising their total daily intake of calcium to 1,142 mg and 69 g of protein. In the control facilities, residents had no change in their diet and consumed < 2 servings per day of dairy.
By 3 months, the rate of falls occurred in 57% of the intervention group vs 62% in the control group (NNT = 20) (95% CI, 0.78-0.98). At 5 months, the rate of fractures in the intervention group was 3.7% vs 5.2% in the control group (NNT = 67) (95% CI, 0.48-0.93). Hip fracture was 1.3% in the intervention group and 2.4% in the control group (NNT 91) (95% CI, 0.35-0.83).
There were no adverse events found nor any weight gain over 2 years.
Increasing servings of dairy to seniors in long-term care facilities reduced morbidity, including falls and fractures.
This should encourage providers of long-term care to re-evaluate how their residents are eating, and, when appropriate, add dairy to everyone's diet. It remains unclear if ice cream and/or cookies were added, but I sure hope so.
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Contributed by Frank J Domino, MD, November 3, 2021