The Effect of Web-Based Culinary Medicine to Enhance Protein Intake on Muscle Quality in Older Adults: Randomized Controlled Trial


Background: The most common age-related musculoskeletal disorder is sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the progressive and generalized loss of muscle mass, strength, and function. The causes of sarcopenia can include insufficient nutritional status, which may be due to protein-energy malnutrition, anorexia, limited food access and eating ability, or malabsorption. In the United States, 15.51% of older adults have been diagnosed with sarcopenia. Culinary medicine (CM) is a novel evidence-based medical field that combines the science of medicine with food and cooking to prevent and treat potential chronic diseases. CM helps individuals learn and practice culinary skills while tasting new recipes. Therefore, this program could successfully reduce barriers to protein intake, enabling older adults to enhance their diet and muscle quality. Objective: This study aimed to examine how a web-based CM intervention, emphasizing convenient ways to increase lean red meat intake, could improve protein intake with the promotion of physical activity to see how this intervention could affect older adults' muscle strength and mass. Methods: A 16-week, single-center, parallel-group, randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare a web-based CM intervention group (CMG) with a control group (CG) while monitoring each group's muscle strength, muscle mass, and physical activity for muscle quality. The CMG received weekly web-based cooking demonstrations and biweekly nutrition education videos about enhancing protein intake, whereas the CG just received the recipe handout. Anthropometrics, muscle mass, muscle strength, dietary habits, physical activity, and cooking effectiveness were established at baseline and measured after the intervention. The final number of participants for the data analysis was 24 in the CMG and 23 in the CG. Results: No between-group difference in muscle mass (P=.88) and strength (dominant P=.92 and nondominant P=.72) change from the prestudy visit was detected. No statistically significant difference in protein intake was seen between the groups (P=.50). A nonsignificant time-by-intervention interaction was observed for daily protein intake (P=.08). However, a statistically significant time effect was observed (P≤.001). Post hoc testing showed that daily protein intake was significantly higher at weeks 1 to 16 versus week 0 (P<.05). At week 16, the intake was 16.9 (95% CI 5.77-27.97) g higher than that at the prestudy visit. Conclusions: This study did not affect protein intake and muscle quality. Insufficient consistent protein intake, low physical activity, intervention adherence, and questionnaire accuracy could explain the results. These studies could include an interdisciplinary staff, different recruitment strategies, and different muscle mass measurements. Future research is needed to determine if this intervention is sustainable in the long term and should incorporate a follow-up to determine program efficacy on several long-term behavioral and health outcomes, including if the participants can sustain their heightened protein intake and how their cooking skills have changed.


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culinary medicine, muscle mass, muscle strength, nutrition intervention, older adults, online, physical activity, protein


Salas-Groves, E., Alcorn, M., Childress, A., & Galyean, S.. 2024. The Effect of Web-Based Culinary Medicine to Enhance Protein Intake on Muscle Quality in Older Adults: Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Formative Research, 8.