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J Nutr. 2012 Feb;142(2):320-5. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.148692. Epub 2011 Dec 21.

Diet quality is associated with all-cause mortality in adults aged 65 years and older.

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  • 1Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.


Diet quality indices assess compliance with dietary guidelines and represent a measure of healthy dietary patterns. Few studies have compared different approaches to assessing diet quality in the same cohort. Our analysis was based on 972 participants of the British Diet and Nutrition Survey of people aged 65 y and older in 1994/1995 and who were followed-up for mortality status until 2008. Dietary intake was measured via a 4-d weighed food record. Three measures of diet quality were used: the Healthy Diet Score (HDS), the Recommended Food Score (RFS), and the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS). HR for all-cause mortality were obtained using Cox regression adjusted for age, sex, energy intake, social class, region, smoking, physical activity, and BMI. After adjustment for confounders, the MDS was significantly associated with mortality [highest vs. lowest quartile; HR = 0.78 (95% CI = 0.62-0.98)]. Similarly, the RFS was also associated with mortality [HR = 0.67 (95 % CI = 0.52-0.86)]; however, there were no significant associations for the HDS [HR = 0.99 (95% CI = 0.79-1.24)]. The HDS was not a predictor of mortality is this population, whereas the RFS and the MDS were both associated with all-cause mortality. Simple measures of diet quality using food-based indicators can be useful predictors of longevity.

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