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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Jul 1;170(1):95-103. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp089. Epub 2009 May 11.

Validity of estimated dietary eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid intakes determined by interviewer-administered food frequency questionnaire among older adults with mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment or dementia.

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Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 02124, USA.


Epidemiologic research is increasingly being focused on elderly persons, many of whom exhibit mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment. This presents a challenge for collection and interpretation of self-reported dietary data. There are few reports on the impact of cognitive function and dementia on the validity of self-reported dietary intakes. Using plasma phospholipid fatty acid profiles as a biomarker of intake, the authors assessed the validity of an interviewer-administered food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to estimate intakes of 2 marine-based omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), among 273 community-dwelling adults aged > or =60 years participating in the Nutrition, Aging, and Memory in Elders Study (Boston, Massachusetts, 2002-2008). Age- and energy-adjusted Pearson correlation coefficients for correlations between dietary intakes and plasma phospholipids were consistent across categories of high and low cognitive function (r = 0.48), based on Mini-Mental State Examination score, and were similar across clinically diagnosed categories of normal functioning (r = 0.49), mild cognitive impairment (r = 0.45), and dementia (r = 0.52). The FFQ ranked 78% of subjects to within 1 quartile of their plasma phospholipid EPA + DHA quartile. This frequency was consistently high across all cognitive categories. With interviewer administration, this FFQ seems to be a valid method of assessing dietary EPA + DHA intake in older adults with mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment.

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