Ph.D. Cornell University
Geriatric community centers often offer nutrition lectures to older adults. In order to make learning more interesting and pragmatic, we developed group activity sessions. This undertaking was tested for its efficacy in changes of frailty status and several other geriatric health parameters. A cluster-randomized controlled trial was conducted between September 2018 and December 2019 at 13 luncheon-providing community strongholds in Taipei, Taiwan. During the 3-month intervention period, 6 experimental strongholds received a weekly 1 h exercise workout and 1 h nutrition activities aiming at achieving the recommendations of the Taiwanese Daily Food Guide for elderlies; the other 7 received a weekly 1 h exercise workout and 1 h other activities. Dietary intakes and frailty status were the primary outcomes. Secondary outcomes included working memory and depression. The measurements were performed at baseline, 3 months, and 6 months. The nutrition intervention significantly reduced the intake of refined grains and roots (p = 0.003) and increased that of non-refined grains and roots (p = 0.008), dairy products (p < 0.0001), and seeds and nuts (at borderline, p = 0.080) at 3 months. Some, but not all, of these changes were maintained at 6 months. Performance improvements included the frailty status score (p = 0.036) and forward digit span (p = 0.004), a working memory parameter, at 3 months. Only the forward digit span remained improved (p = 0.007) at 6 months. The 3-month nutrition group activities combined with exercise sessions improved the frailty status and working memory more than exercise alone. The dietary and frailty improvements were accompanied by improved dietary intakes and advanced behavioral stages. However, the improved frailty status backslid after intervention ceased, suggesting that boosting activities are needed for maintaining the intervention effect.