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Higher Levels of Physical Activity are Associated with Greater Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Older Adults

Abstract

Objective

High levels of physical activity (PA) and optimal nutrition independently improve healthy aging, but few data are available about how PA may influence food preferences in older populations. Therefore, the aim of our study was to establish if there is an association between habitual PA and intake of nutrient-dense foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables).

Design

A cross-sectional survey was conducted.

Setting

The Netherlands.

Participants

2466 older adults (56% male, age 62±9 yr).

Measurements

PA was assessed using the short questionnaire to assess health (SQUASH) and participants were classified into quintiles of weekly PA (MET-h/wk). Total fruit and vegetable intake was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and were corrected for energy intake (g/kcal/d) in the analyses. Multiple regression analyses were performed to determine the association between PA and fruit and vegetable intake, including covariates.

Results

Being in the higher quintiles of PA (Q3, Q4 and Q5) was positively associated with more daily fruit and vegetable consumption, even after correction for total energy intake (Q3; β=0.089, P<0.001, Q4; β=0.047, P=0.024, Q5; β=0.098, P<0.001).

Conclusions

Older adults who are moderately to highly physically active tend to consume more fruit and vegetable compared to less active peers, when corrected for total energy intake. Female gender, under- and overreporting dietary intake (Goldberg score), non-smoking, high level of education, less alcohol consumption and a lower body mass index positivity affected this relationship. Our data will help health-care professionals to accelerate their efforts to treat and prevent chronic diseases.

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Figure 1A
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Acknowledgments

The authors thank all the participants of the study.

Funding

Funding source: This study was part of the EAT2MOVE project and supported by a grant from the Province of Gelderland. EAT2MOVE had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Cindy M. T. van der Avoort.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest: All authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Ethical standards disclosure: This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving research study participants were approved by the Medical Ethical Committee of the Radboudumc Medical Centre. Written informed consent was obtained from all subjects.

Additional information

Authorship: CA, DH, TE and MH conceived and designed the study. DH, TE and JV performed the data collection. CA, DH performed the statistical analysis. CA, DH, LV, LL and MH interpreted the data. CA, DH drafted the manuscript, with contribution of TE, LV and MH. All authors critically read the draft and approved the final version of the manuscript submitted for publication.

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van der Avoort, C.M.T., ten Haaf, D.S.M., de Vries, J.H.M. et al. Higher Levels of Physical Activity are Associated with Greater Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Older Adults. J Nutr Health Aging 25, 230–241 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-020-1520-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-020-1520-3

Key words

  • Healthy eating
  • lifestyle interventions
  • chronic diseases
  • healthy aging