This analysis examined whether specific social, physical, and financial factors were associated with diet quality among older, community-dwelling women.
This cross-sectional analysis was conducted in a subset of 6,094 community-dwelling Women's Health Initiative participants who completed a food frequency questionnaire, administered from 2012 to 2013, and a self-administered supplemental questionnaire, administered approximately 1 year later. The supplemental questionnaire included five questions assessing social, physical, and financial factors related to eating. Diet quality was assessed with the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010; range of 0-100; higher score indicates a higher quality diet). The total HEI-2010 score was calculated by summing individual scores representing the intake of nine adequacy components (beneficial food groups) and three moderation components (food groups to limit). Associations of responses to the five questions on the supplemental questionnaire with HEI-2010 scores were examined with multiple linear regression, adjusting for relevant covariates.
Mean ± standard deviation age of participants was 78.8 ± 6.7 years. Reporting eating fewer than two meals per day, having dental or other mouth problems causing problems with eating, and not always being able to shop, cook, or feed oneself were associated with statistically significantly lower HEI-2010 scores, compared with those not reporting these issues, after multivariable adjustment: 5.37, 2.98, and 2.39 lower scores, respectively (all P values <0.0001). Reporting eating alone most of the time and not always having enough money to buy food were not associated with HEI-2010 scores.
Among older, community-dwelling women, eating fewer than two meals per day, dental and other mouth problems, and diminished ability to shop for food, prepare meals, and feed oneself were associated with lower diet quality. These are potential targets for interventions to improve diet quality in older women.