University of Oulu

Mia-Maria Perälä, Mikaela B. von Bonsdorff, Satu Männistö, Minna K. Salonen, Mika Simonen, Pertti Pohjolainen, Eero Kajantie, Taina Rantanen, Johan G. Eriksson, The Healthy Nordic Diet and Mediterranean Diet and Incidence of Disability 10 Years Later in Home-Dwelling Old Adults, Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, Volume 20, Issue 5, 2019, Pages 511-516.e1, ISSN 1525-8610,

The healthy Nordic diet and Mediterranean diet and incidence of disability 10 years later in home-dwelling old adults

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Author: Perälä, Mia-Maria1,2; von Bonsdorff, Mikaela B.2,3; Männistö, Satu1;
Organizations: 1Department of Public Health Solutions, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
2Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
3Gerontology Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
4Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5Age Institute, Helsinki, Finland
6Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Hospital and University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
7PEDEGO Research Unit, MRC Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki and Helsinki University Hospital, Unit of General Practice, Helsinki, Finland
9Vaasa Central Hospital, Vaasa, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-10-23


Background/Objective: Diet has a major impact on a person’s health. However, limited information exists on the long-term role of the whole diet on disability. We investigated the association of the healthy Nordic diet and the Mediterranean diet with incident disability 10 years later.

Design: Longitudinal, with a follow-up of 10 years.

Settings/Participants: A total of 962 home-dwelling men and women from the Helsinki Birth Cohort Study, mean age 61.6 years, who were free of disability at baseline.

Measurements: At baseline, 2001–2004, the Nordic diet score (NDS) and modified Mediterranean diet score (mMDS) were calculated using a validated 128-item food-frequency questionnaire. Higher scores indicated better adherence to the diet. Participants’ incident disability was assessed during 2011–2013 by a self-reported questionnaire and was based on mobility limitations and difficulties to perform self-care activities. Analyses were performed using logistic regression and adjusted for potential confounding factors.

Results: In total, 94 participants (9.8%) developed mobility limitations and 45 participants (4.7%) developed difficulties in self-care activities during 10 year follow-up. The likelihood of having mobility limitations (odds ratio (OR) 0.42, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22–0.80) and difficulties in self-care activities (OR 0.38, 95% CI 0.15–0.94) were lower among those in the highest NDS tertile than among those in the lowest NDS tertile. Greater mMDS was associated with a lower disability incidence; however, the association was not statistically significant.

Conclusions/Implications: Adherence to the healthy Nordic diet predicts 10-year incidence of mobility limitations and difficulties to perform self-care activities in old age and may thus be protective against disability in Nordic population.

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Series: Journal of the American Medical Directors Association
ISSN: 1538-9375
ISSN-E: 1525-8610
ISSN-L: 1538-9375
Volume: 20
Issue: 5
Pages: 511 - 516
DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2018.09.001
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3141 Health care science
3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Copyright information: © 2018 AMDA - The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license