, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 19-25

Dietary patterns and diet quality among diverse older adults: The university of Alabama at Birmingham study of aging

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Abstract

Objectives

To characterize dietary patterns among a diverse sample of older adults (≥ 65 years).

Design

Cross-sectional.

Setting

Five counties in west central Alabama.

Participants

Community-dwelling Medicare beneficiaries (N=416; 76.8 ±5.2 years, 56% female, 39% African American) in the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Study of Aging.

Measurements

Dietary data collected via three, unannounced 24-hour dietary recalls was used to identify dietary patterns. Foods were aggregated into 13 groups. Finite mixture modeling (FMM) was used to classify individuals into three dietary patterns. Differences across dietary patterns for nutrient intakes, sociodemographic, and anthropometric measurements were examined using chi-square and general linear models.

Results

Three dietary patterns were derived. A “More healthful” dietary pattern, with relatively higher intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, eggs, nuts, legumes and dairy, was associated with lower energy density, higher quality diets as determined by Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2005 scores and higher intakes of fiber, folate, vitamins C and B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. The “Westernlike” pattern was defined by an intake of starchy vegetables, refined grains, meats, fried poultry and fish, oils and fats and was associated with lower HEI-2005 scores. The “Low produce, high sweets” pattern was characterized by high saturated fat, and low dietary fiber and vitamin C intakes. The strongest predictors of better diet quality were female gender and non-Hispanic white race.

Conclusion

The dietary patterns identified may provide a useful basis on which to base dietary interventions targeted at older adults. Examination of nutrient intakes regardless of the dietary pattern suggests that older adults are not meeting nutrient recommendations and should continue to be encouraged to choose high quality diets.