, Volume 49, Issue 7, pp 385-394,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 21 Feb 2010

Relationships of dietary patterns with body composition in older adults differ by gender and PPAR-γ Pro12Ala genotype



Dietary patterns may better capture the multifaceted effects of diet on body composition than individual nutrients or foods. The objective of this study was to investigate the dietary patterns of a cohort of older adults, and examine relationships of dietary patterns with body composition. The influence of a polymorphism in the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPAR-γ) gene was considered.


The Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study is a prospective cohort study of 3,075 older adults. Participants’ body composition and genetic variation were measured in detail. Food intake was assessed with a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (Block Dietary Data Systems, Berkeley, CA), and dietary patterns of 1,809 participants with complete data were derived by cluster analysis.


Six clusters were identified, including a ‘Healthy foods’ cluster characterized by higher intake of low-fat dairy products, fruit, whole grains, poultry, fish and vegetables. An interaction was found between dietary patterns and PPAR-γ Pro12Ala genotype in relation to body composition. While Pro/Pro homozygous men and women in the ‘Healthy foods’ cluster did not differ significantly in body composition from those in other clusters, men with the Ala allele in the ‘Healthy foods’ cluster had significantly lower levels of adiposity than those in other clusters. Women with the Ala allele in the ‘Healthy foods’ cluster differed only in right thigh intermuscular fat from those in other clusters.


Relationships between diet and body composition in older adults may differ by gender and by genetic factors such as PPAR-γ Pro12Ala genotype.