Development and validation of a short food questionnaire to screen for low protein intake in community-dwelling older adults: The Protein Screener 55+ (Pro55+)

Hanneke A.H. Wijnhoven*, L.E.M. Elstgeest, Henrica C.W. de Vet, Mary Nicolaou, Marieke B. Snijder, Marjolein Visser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In old age, sufficient protein intake is important to preserve muscle mass and function. Around 50% of older adults (65+ y) consumes 1.0 g/kg adjusted body weight (BW)/day (d). There is no rapid method available to screen for low protein intake in old age. Therefore, we aimed to develop and validate a short food questionnaire to screen for low protein intake in community-dwelling older adults. We used data of 1348 older men and women (56–101 y) of the LASA study (the Netherlands) to develop the questionnaire and data of 563 older men and women (55–71 y) of the HELIUS study (the Netherlands) for external validation. In both samples, protein intake was measured by the 238-item semi-quantitative HELIUS food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to predict protein intake 1.0 g/kg adjusted BW/d (based on the HELIUS FFQ). Candidate predictor variables were FFQ questions on frequency and amount of intake of specific foods. In both samples, 30% had a protein intake 1.0 g/kg adjusted BW/d. Our final model included adjusted body weight and 10 questions on the consumption (amount on average day or frequency in 4 weeks) of: slices of bread (number); glasses of milk (number); meat with warm meal (portion size); cheese (amount and frequency); dairy products (like yoghurt) (frequency); egg(s) (frequency); pasta/noodles (frequency); fish (frequency); and nuts/peanuts (frequency). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.889 (95% CI 0.870–0.907). The calibration slope was 1.03 (optimal slope 1.00). At a cut-off of 0.8 g/kg adjusted BW/d, the AUC was 0.916 (96% CI 0.897–0.936). Applying the regression equation to the HELIUS sample, the AUC was 0.856 (95% CI 0.824–0.888) and the calibration slope 0.92. Regression coefficients were therefore subsequently shrunken by a linear factor 0.92. To conclude, the short food questionnaire (Pro55+) can be used to validly screen for protein intake 1.0 g/kg adjusted BW/d in community-dwelling older adults. An online version can be found at External validation in other countries is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0196406
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2018


For this paper was provided by the European Horizon 2020 PROMISS Project ‘PRevention Of Malnutrition In Senior Subjects in the EU’, grant agreement no. 678732. The content only reflects the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains. The Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA) is largely supported by a grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, Directorate of Long-Term Care. The data collection in 2012–2013 was financially supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) in the framework of the project “New Cohorts of young old in the 21st century” (File Number 480-10-014). Funding for the LASA nutrition and food-related behavior ancillary study was provided by the European Union FP7 Mood FOOD Project ‘Multi-country collaborative project on the role of Diet, Food-related behaviour, and Obesity in the prevention of Depression’ (Grant Agreement Number 613598). The HELIUS study is conducted by the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam and the Public Health Service (GGD) of Amsterdam. Both organisations provided core support for HELIUS. The HELIUS study is also funded by the Dutch Heart Foundation, the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), the European Union (FP-7), and the European Fund for the Integration of non-EU immigrants (EIF). The funders had no role in study We greatly thank the LASA and HELIUS studies for providing the data for this research. We are extremely grateful to all participants of the LASA and HELIUS study. We are grateful to the fieldwork teams and all researchers at LASA and HELIUS for their ongoing commitment to the study. We would like to acknowledge and thank Dr. David Vergouw (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) for providing statistical advice.

FundersFunder number
U.S. Public Health Service
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme678732
Seventh Framework Programme613598


    Dive into the research topics of 'Development and validation of a short food questionnaire to screen for low protein intake in community-dwelling older adults: The Protein Screener 55+ (Pro55+)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this