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Keywords:

  • diet;
  • sarcopenia;
  • grip strength

OBJECTIVES: To examine relationships between diet and grip strength in older men and women and to determine whether prenatal growth modifies these relationships.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional and retrospective cohort study.

SETTING: Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.

PARTICIPANTS: Two thousand nine hundred eighty-three men and women aged 59 to 73 who were born and still living in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom.

MEASUREMENTS: Weight at birth recorded in Health Visitor ledgers; current food and nutrient intake assessed using an administered food frequency questionnaire; and grip strength measured using a handheld dynamometer.

RESULTS: Grip strength was positively associated with height and weight at birth and inversely related to age (all P<.001). Of the dietary factors considered in relation to grip strength, the most important was fatty fish consumption. An increase in grip strength of 0.43 kg (95% confidence interval (CI)=0.13–0.74) in men (P=.005) and 0.48 kg (95% CI=0.24–0.72) in women (P<.001) was observed for each additional portion of fatty fish consumed per week. These relationships were independent of adult height, age, and birth weight, each of which had additive effects on grip strength. There was no evidence of interactive effects of weight at birth and adult diet on grip strength.

CONCLUSION: These data suggest that fatty fish consumption can have an important influence on muscle function in older men and women. This raises the possibility that the antiinflammatory actions of omega-3 fatty acids may play a role in the prevention of sarcopenia.