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Protein shakes, bars boost nutrition sales


While Americans are redefining what it means to age well and stay healthy, many adults 50 years and over are still feeling the effects of aging. AARP earlier this year surveyed 1,480 Americans ages 50 years and older, and found that while a majority see themselves in good health, 1-in-2 reported that they wished they had more strength or energy to participate in the activities that they enjoy.

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There are 108.7 million people who have officially passed the age where they’re old enough to join the AARP, including 76.4 million boomers.

That marks a significant opportunity for retail pharmacy operators. Sales of ready-to-drink adult nutrition shakes are up as much as 12% to $3.1 billion across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI for the 52 weeks ended May 15. And if protein shakes aren’t their thing, sales of protein bars also have upward growth momentum from a rather large base — up 4.7% to $2.3 billion.

According to the AARP survey, 82% of people over 50 years old said good nutrition was either very or extremely important to their overall health. When it came to a person’s muscle health, nearly three-quarters (73%) of people surveyed knew that adults naturally lose muscle with age.

The survey findings match the science that shows people naturally start to lose up to 8% of muscle each decade starting at 40 years old, which accelerates to 15% at age 70 and can worsen with an illness or health setback.

When asked in the survey, nearly all (95%) reported that they had a serious or chronic health condition after turning age 50, and many listed the health of their muscles as a concern when managing a health condition.

While age- and illness-related muscle loss is inevitable, exercise and nutrition can help rebuild strength — and protein is a critical part of the recipe. In the survey, 62% of adults believed they get enough protein, and 70% have increased their intake of high-protein foods to minimize the risk of muscle loss. Yet, a majority of people did not know how much protein they actually need — when asked, only 17% said they knew that amount.

The recommended daily amount is roughly 53 g for a 150-lb. adult. However, research shows that older adults may actually need about two times this amount of protein because people start absorbing and storing nutrients like protein differently as they age.

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