Category: Social and Community Context

29 - Dietary patterns among young and middle-aged men and women in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging cohort


To assess dietary patterns and their distributions across several decades from 1960s to 2000s in young and middle-aged men and women.



Data from 851 participants, aged 30-59 y, (61% men) from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) were included in these analyses. Dietary intakes were assessed using 3-7 d diet records collected between 1961 and 2008. Dietary patterns were examined based on adherence to federal guidelines using the Healthy Eating Index-2015 score (HEI, possible range 0-100), including total fruits, whole fruits, total vegetables, greens and beans, whole grains, dairy, total protein foods, seafood and plant proteins, fatty acids, refined grains, sodium, added sugar and saturated fats, with higher scores indicating closer adherence to federal guidelines. Serial cross-sectional analyses, using multiple linear regression models, were performed to assess change in HEI score by decade for men and women (available after 1980) adjusting for age, education, race and smoking status.



The overall mean HEI scores in the cohort were 53.2 (standard deviation [SD] =8.8) for men and 56.2 (SD=9.7) for women. Among men, mean adjusted HEI scores in each decade were 52.9 (standard error [SE]=1.3), 55.0 (SE=1.1), 57.4 (SE=1.4), 53.1 (SE=1.3) and 43.3 (SD=1.2) for 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s respectively, and compared to the mean HEI score in the 1960s, mean HEI scores were significantly higher in 1970s (p=0.03) and 1980s (p=0.001) and significantly lower in the 2000s (p



Our results suggest that in the BLSA cohort, diet quality worsened after the 1980’s. Future investigations need to assess the effect of these changes on health and aging related outcomes. 


Yichen Jin

Research Associate
George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
Washington, District of Columbia

Yichen Jin is a research associate in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health. She received the MSPH degree at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in human nutrition. She is interested in the effect of lifestyle factors such as diet quality and physical activity on healthy aging.

Toshiko Tanaka

Staff Scientist
National Institute on Aging

Dr. Toshiko Tanaka is currently a Staff Scientist at the Translational Gerontology Branch, Longitudinal Study Section of the National Institute on Aging. Her research focuses on the role of nutrition and genetics on disease progression and aging process. In recent years, she has been studying the role of genetics on nutrition status using genome-wide association studies in epidemiological studies from Italy and the United States. Concurrently, she has utilized dietary data assessed by food frequency questionnaires to explore the effect of various dietary components on various aging traits, and also to determine whether such effect of diet can be modified by genetic variation. She has been the lead analyst for various international consortium of genome- wide association meta-analysis for various age-related traits and serve as a co-leader of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) nutrition working group.

Qian-Li Xue

Associate Professor
Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Qian-Li Xue is associate professor in Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His primary area of statistical expertise is the development and application of statistical methods for (i) handling truncation of information on underlying or unobservable outcomes (e.g., disability) as a result of screening, (ii) missing data including outcome (e.g. frailty) censoring by a competing risk (e.g. mortality), and (iii) trajectory analysis of multivariate outcomes. Other areas of methodologic research interests include multivariate, latent variable models.

Katherine Tucker

Professor, Co Director
University of Massachusetts Lowell

Dr. Tucker is Professor of Nutritional Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Population Health at UMass Lowell. She is Editor-in Chief of Advances in Nutrition, an international review journal. Dr. Tucker has contributed to more than 300 articles in scientific journals. Her research focuses on dietary intake and risk of chronic disease, including osteoporosis, cognitive decline, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease, and on dietary methodology. She is PI of the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, a longitudinal study on the roles and interactions of stress, social support, diet, health behavior and genetic predisposition in relation to health disparities in Puerto Rican adults.

Luigi Ferrucci

Senior Investigator
National Institute on Aging

Dr. Luigi Ferrucci is a geriatrician and an epidemiologist who conducts research on the causal pathways leading to progressive physical and cognitive decline in older persons. In September 2002, he became the Chief of the Longitudinal Studies Section at NIA and the Director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study on Aging. Dr. Ferrucci received a Medical Degree and Board Certification in 1980, a Board Certification in Geriatrics in 1982 and Ph.D. in Biology and Pathophysiology of Aging in 1998 at the University of Florence, Italy. He spent a 2-year internship at the Intensive Care Unit of the Florence Institute of Gerontology and Geriatrics, and was for many years Associate Professor of Biology, Human Physiology and Statistics at the University of Florence. Between 1985 and 2002 he was Chief of Geriatric Rehabilitation at the Department of Geriatric Medicine and Director of the Laboratory of Clinical Epidemiology at the Italian National Institute of Aging. During the same period, he collaborated with the NIA Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry where he spent several periods as Visiting Scientist. Dr. Ferrucci has made major contributions in the design of many epidemiological studies conducted in the U.S. and in Europe, including the European Longitudinal Study on Aging, the "ICare Dicomano Study," the AKEA study of Centenarians in Sardinia and the Women's Health and Aging Study. He was also the Principal Investigator of the InCHIANTI study, a longitudinal study conducted in the Chianti Geographical area (Tuscany, Italy) looking at risk factors for mobility disability in older persons. Dr. Ferrucci is currently refining the design of the BLSA to focus more on normal aging and the development of age-associated frailty. Dr. Ferrucci is Scientific Director, NIA since May 2011.

Sameera Talegawkar

Associate Professor
George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health
Washington, District of Columbia

Sameera Talegawkar is an Associate Professor in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. Dr. Talegawkar is also Affiliated Faculty at the Sumner Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness. Dr. Talegawkar is a nutritional epidemiologist with expertise in dietary assessment methods in diverse populations. Her research focuses on examining the role of diet and other lifestyle factors on chronic disease risk in minority populations, and on age-related functional declines in older individuals.