The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 19–25 | Cite as

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

  • Pao Ying HsiaoEmail author
  • D. C. Mitchell
  • D. L. Coffman
  • R. M. Allman
  • J. L. Locher
  • P. Sawyer
  • Gordon L. JensenEmail author
  • T. J. Hartman



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




Five counties in west central Alabama.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Key words

Dietary pattern finite mixture modeling older adults 


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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer Verlag France 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pao Ying Hsiao
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  • D. C. Mitchell
    • 1
  • D. L. Coffman
    • 2
  • R. M. Allman
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • J. L. Locher
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
  • P. Sawyer
    • 4
    • 5
  • Gordon L. Jensen
    • 1
    • 8
    Email author
  • T. J. Hartman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Nutritional SciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.The Methodology CenterThe Pennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA
  3. 3.Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical CenterBirminghamUSA
  4. 4.Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics, and Palliative CareUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  5. 5.UAB Center for AgingBirminghamUSA
  6. 6.UAB Nutrition Obesity Research CenterBirminghamUSA
  7. 7.Department of Health Care Organization and PolicyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  8. 8.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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