(HealthDay News) Increasing intake of calcium and protein using dairy foods is associated with a reduction in falls and fractures among institutionalized older adults, according to a study published online Oct. 20 in The BMJ.

Sandra Iuliano, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues conducted a two-year cluster randomized controlled trial at 60 accredited residential aged care facilities in Australia with 7,195 permanent residents (mean age, 86.0 years). Facilities were randomly assigned to provide residents with additional milk, yogurt and cheese that contained 562 mg/day calcium and 12 g/day protein or to maintain their usual menus, with residents consuming 1,142 mg/day calcium and 69 g/day protein and 700 mg/day calcium and 58 g/day protein, respectively. Data were analyzed from 27 intervention facilities and 29 control facilities.

The researchers identified 324 fractures (135 hip fractures), 4,302 falls and 1,974 deaths. The intervention was associated with significant risk reductions for all fractures, hip fractures and falls (hazard ratios, 0.67, 0.54, and 0.89, respectively). For hip fractures and falls, the risk reduction achieved significance at five and three months, respectively. There was no change in mortality with the intervention.

“This nutritional intervention has widespread implications as a public health measure for fracture prevention in the aged care setting and potentially in the wider community,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; the study was partially funded by grants from various dairy associations.

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