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Adherence to Mediterranean Diet and Decline in Walking Speed over 8 Years in Community-Dwelling Older Adults

Authors

  • Danit R. Shahar PhD, RD,

    Corresponding author
    • S. Daniel International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Negev, Israel
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  • Denise K. Houston PhD, RD,

    1. Sticht Center on Aging, School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
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  • Trisha F. Hue PhD, MPH,

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California
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  • Jung-Sun Lee PhD, RD,

    1. Department of Foods and Nutrition, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia
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  • Nadine R. Sahyoun PhD, RD,

    1. Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
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  • Frances A. Tylavsky DrPH,

    1. Health Science Center, University of Tennessee, Memphis, Tennessee
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  • Diklah Geva MPH,

    1. S. Daniel International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Negev, Israel
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  • Hillel Vardi MS,

    1. S. Daniel International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Evaluation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Negev, Israel
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  • Tamara B. Harris MD, MS,

    1. Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography and Biometry, National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • for the Health Aging and Body Composition Study


Address correspondence to Danit R. Shahar, The S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, PO Box 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel. E-mail: dshahar@bgu.ac.il

Abstract

Objectives

To determine the association between Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) score and 20-m walking speed over 8 years.

Design

Health, Aging and Body Composition Study (Health ABC) beginning in 1997/98.

Setting

Community.

Participants

Two thousand two hundred twenty-five well-functioning individuals aged 70 and older.

Measurements

Walking speed was assessed in relation to low, medium, and high adherence to the MedDiet (0–2, 3–5, 6–9 points, respectively).

Results

Individuals in the highest MedDiet adherence group were more likely to be male; less likely to smoke; and more likely to have lower body mass index, higher energy intake, and greater physical activity (P < .05). Usual and rapid 20-m walking speed were highest in the high MedDiet adherence group than in the other groups (high, 1.19 ± 0.19 m/s; medium, 1.16 ± 0.21 m/s; low, 1.15 ± 0.19 m/s, P = .02, for usual speed; high, 1.65 ±0.30 m/s; medium, 1.59 ± 0.32 m/s; low, 1.55 ± 0.30 m/s, P = .001, for rapid speed). Over 8 years, usual and rapid 20-m walking speed declined in all MedDiet adherence groups. Higher MedDiet adherence was an independent predictor of less decline in usual 20-m walking speed (P = .049) in generalized estimating equations adjusted for age, race, sex, site, education, smoking, physical activity, energy intake, health status, depression and cognitive score. The effect decreased after adding total body fat percentage to the model (P = .13). Similar results were observed for MedDiet adherence and rapid 20-m walking speed; the association remained significant after adjustment for total body fat percentage (P = .01). The interaction between time and MedDiet adherence was not significant in any of the models.

Conclusion

Walking speed over 8 years was faster in those with higher MedDiet adherence at baseline. The differences remained significant over 8 years, suggesting a long-term effect of diet on mobility performance with aging.

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