Effects of dining on tongue endurance and swallowing-related outcomes


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that eating a meal reduces tongue strength and endurance in healthy old and young adults. It was predicted that older adults would show greater declines in tongue endurance while demonstrating higher perceived effort, longer meal durations, and clinical signs of swallowing difficulty. METHOD: Twenty-two healthy adults were enrolled into 2 groups (ages 20-35 years and ages 65-82 years; 5 males and 6 females each). Maximum tongue strength (Pmax) and endurance (duration 50% of Pmax could be maintained) were measured twice at baseline and once postmeal. Subjects consumed half of a bagel with peanut butter, carrot sticks, and milk between measures. RESULTS: All subjects demonstrated reduced tongue strength and endurance postmeal. Young adults showed a greater decline in anterior tongue endurance compared with older adults (p=.05). There was no evidence that changes in tongue strength, perceived effort, or meal duration varied by age or gender. The 3 oldest subjects reported the highest effort and displayed signs of difficulty swallowing while dining. CONCLUSIONS: Young and old adults demonstrated reduced tongue strength and endurance after dining, but younger subjects showed greater declines in anterior tongue endurance, whereas older adults exhibited signs of swallowing difficulty.

Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research