News & Media

Dairy reduces falls and fractures

A healthy old age – is it realistic or futile? Ageing is often accompanied with frailty, bone fragility, and increased risk of fractures, particularly the hip. However, there is good news. A 2-year Australian study has investigated how dairy foods served in aged care facilities impacts on the risk of fractures of the residents. Few studies have investigated the efficacy and safety of a nutrition-based approach to reduce fracture risk in this setting.

Dairy foodsHalf of the facilities continued with their regular menu (control) and the other half (intervention) increased their serves of dairy (milk, cheese, yoghurt, and skim milk powder) from an average of two to 3.5 serves per dayNote – facilities were randomly assigned to either the intervention or the control diet. 

 

 

Researchers found this dietary change resulted in numerous clinically significant changes including: 

  • Improved calcium and protein intakes 
  • 33% reduction in all fractures 
  • 46% reduction in hip fractures 
  • 11% reduction in falls.  

 Dairy foods were increased by the use of milk powder to fortify milk used in recipes and drinks, and dairy based desserts and snacks were substituted in place of less nutritious foods such as cakes and biscuits. The additional dairy foods – equivalent to 250mL milk plus 20g cheese or 100g yoghurt – provided an extra 562mg calcium, achieving 1142mg calcium daily, and an extra 12g protein, achieving an intake of 69g (1.1g/kg body weight) daily.  

Despite limitations of the study – follow up was conducted on only half of the group, and only 10% of residents’ dietary compliance was measured – the intervention was found to be safe, effective, accessible and palatable, providing evidence that provision of dairy foods (thus calcium and protein) is an effective solution to reducing falls and fractures.  

The study was partly funded by nine international dairy organisations, including Dairy Australia.  

Reference Iuliano S, Poon S, Robbins J, Bui M, Wang X, De Groot L et al. Effect of dietary sources of calcium and protein on hip fractures and falls in older adults in residential care: cluster randomised controlled trial BMJ 2021; 375 : https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.n2364