FRIDAY, March 11, 2022 (HealthDay News) — From 2001 to 2018, there was a decrease in dietary quality among older adults in the United States, according to a study published online March 11 in JAMA Network Open.

Tingxi Long, from Duke Kunshan University in China, and colleagues characterized trends in overall diet quality and key food components and nutrients using 24-hour dietary recall data from 10,837 adults aged 65 years or older in nine National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycles from 2001-2002 to 2017-2018.

The researchers found that from 2001 to 2018, there was a deterioration in overall dietary quality among older adults. The mean primary American Heart Association (AHA) 2020 Strategic Impact Goals for diet score decreased by 7.9 percent, from 19.84 to 18.28. The mean secondary AHA score decreased by 8.4 percent, from 34.75 to 31.83. The mean Healthy Eating Index 2015 score decreased by 5.4 percent, from 47.82 to 45.25. Based on the primary AHA score, there was a significant increase in the proportion of older adults with a poor diet quality (50.9 to 60.9 percent) and a significant decrease seen in the proportion with an intermediate diet quality (48.6 to 38.7 percent), while the proportion with ideal diet quality remained stable and low (0.4 percent in both 2001-2002 and 2017-2018).

“Older adults have become the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population; specific attention should be focused on their diets and on diet-related policy to improve their health,” the authors write.

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