BMC Geriatrics, 2023

Fish intake and pre-frailty in Norwegian older adults – a prospective cohort study: the Tromsø Study 1994–2016


Background: Pre-frailty is an intermediate, potentially reversible state before the onset of frailty. Healthy dietary choices may prevent pre-frailty. Fish is included in most healthy diets, but little is known about the association between long-term habitual fish intake and pre-frailty. We aimed to elucidate the longitudinal association between the frequency of fish intake and pre-frailty in a cohort of older adults in Norway.

Methods: 4350 participants (52% women, ≥65 years at follow-up) were included in this prospective cohort study. Data was obtained from three waves of the population-based Tromsø Study in Norway; Tromsø4 (1994–1995), Tromsø6 (2007–2008) and Tromsø7 (follow-up, 2015–2016). Frailty status at follow-up was defined by a modified version of Fried’s phenotype. Fish intake was self-reported in the three surveys and assessed as three levels of frequency of intake: low (0–3 times/month), medium (1–3 times/week) and high (≥ 4 times/week). The fish–pre-frailty association was analysed using multivariable logistic regression in two ways; (1) frequency of intake of lean, fatty and total fish in Tromsø6 and pre-frailty at follow-up, and (2) patterns of total fish intake across the three surveys and pre-frailty at follow-up.

Results: At follow-up, 28% (n = 1124) were pre-frail. Participants with a higher frequency of lean, fatty and total fish intake had 28% (odds ratio (OR) = 0.72, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.53, 0.97), 37% (OR = 0.63, 95% CI = 0.43, 0.91) and 31% (OR = 0.69, 95% CI = 0.52, 0.91) lower odds of pre-frailty 8 years later compared with those with a low intake, respectively. A pattern of stable high fish intake over 21 years was associated with 41% (OR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.38, 0.91) lower odds of pre-frailty compared with a stable low intake.

Conclusions: A higher frequency of intake of lean, fatty and total fish, and a pattern of consistent frequent fish intake over time, were associated with lower odds of pre-frailty in older community-dwelling Norwegian adults. These results emphasise the important role of fish in a healthy diet and that a frequent fish intake should be promoted to facilitate healthy ageing.


Dina Moxness Konglevoll, Lene Frost Andersen, Laila Arnesdatter Hopstock, Bjørn Heine Strand, Magne Thoresen, Torunn Holm Totland, Anette Hjartåker & Monica Hauger Carlsen

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