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Approved Research

What is the association between falls, nutritional intake and activity in free-living older adults: a cross-sectional study using the UK Biobank

Principal Investigator: Miss Chloe French
Approved Research ID: 82353
Approval date: June 22nd 2022

Lay summary

This research projects aims to identify if adults over the age of 65 are following guidelines recommendations for diet and physical activity. This study will focus on adults in the U.K. living in the community rather than those based in care homes or hospitals.

The UK Biobank contains data regarding the habitual dietary intake of this population; this information will be compared to the Eatwell guide, a public health resource providing guidance about healthy eating patterns. This will involve assessing intake of different food groups including starchy carbohydrates, proteins and dairy as well as fluid intake. In addition to diet, we will utilise information from the UK Biobank to identify both the intensity and duration of activity undertaken in a week, along with estimated sedentary time and the participation/ frequency of strengthening exercises. This information will be compared with the Chief Medical Officer's Physical activity guidelines. For both sets of guidelines, we will identify the proportion of older adults meeting each aspect of these government recommendations and consider if factors such as age, postcode or education level affect adherence to these guidelines recommendations. 

We will assess if there is a relationship between older adults following guidelines for diet and physical activity and the frequency of falling. This is important given the prevalence and complications associated with falls in this population. By understanding the effects of lifestyle factors on the risk of falls, these findings may help to guide future practice to reduce the likelihood of falls in older adults. 

The project should take 36 months to complete from receiving the data to complete data analysis, write up the findings and disseminate the results. It is important to evaluate the effectiveness and uptake of guidelines to identify if they are being followed and if additional policies or interventions are required to maximise adherence. It is important to optimise the dietary intake and physical activity levels of older adults given that these lifestyle factors play a role in overall health and wellbeing, quality of life and risk of developing chronic diseases.