Journal Article

Diet quality in late midlife is associated with faster walking speed in later life in women, but not men


Healthy diet has been linked to better age-related physical functioning, but evidence on the relationship of overall diet quality in late midlife and clinically relevant measures of physical functioning in later life is limited. Research on potential sex differences in this relationship is scarce. The aim was to investigate the prospective association between overall diet quality, as assessed by the Healthy Eating Index-2015 at age 60-64y and measures of walking speed seven years later, among men and women from the Insight46, a neuroscience sub-study of the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development. Diet was assessed at age 60-64y using five-day food diaries, from which total HEI-2015 was calculated. At age 69-71y, walking speed was estimated during four 10-meter walks at self-selected pace, using inertial measurement units. Multivariable linear regression models with sex as modifier, controlling for age, follow-up, lifestyle, health, social variables and physical performance were used. The final sample was 164 women and 167 men (n=331). Women had higher HEI-2015 scores and slower walking speed than men. A 10 point increase in HEI-2015 was associated with faster walking speed seven years later among women (B: 0.024, 95% CI: 0.006, 0.043), but not men. The association remained significant in the multivariable model (B: 0.021, 95% CI: 0.003, 0.040). In women in late midlife higher diet quality is associated with faster walking speed. A healthy diet in late midlife is likely to contribute towards better age-related physical capability and sex differences are likely to affect this relationship.

Attached files


Tektonidis, Thanasis G
Coe, Shelly
Esser, Patrick
Maddock, Jane
Buchanan, Sarah
Mavrommati, Foteini
Schott, Jonathan M
Izadi, Hooshang
Richards, Marcus
Dawes, Helen

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-12-16

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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