Dietary fat and cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular disease in older adults: the Health ABC Study

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jun;21(6):430-7. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2009.11.007. Epub 2010 Mar 24.


Background and aims: Although dietary fats and cholesterol have previously been associated with risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in middle-aged populations, less is known among older adults. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between dietary fats, cholesterol, and eggs and CVD risk among community-dwelling adults aged 70-79 in the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.

Methods and results: Diet was assessed using an interviewer-administered 108-item food frequency questionnaire (n=1941). CVD events were defined as a confirmed myocardial infarction, coronary death, or stroke. Relative rates of CVD over 9 years of follow-up were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models. During follow-up, there were 203 incident cases of CVD. There were no significant associations between dietary fats and CVD risk. Dietary cholesterol (HR (95% CI): 1.47 (0.93, 2.32) for the upper vs. lower tertile; P for trend, 0.10) and egg consumption (HR (95% CI): 1.68 (1.12, 2.51) for 3+/week vs. <1/week; P for trend, 0.01) were associated with increased CVD risk. However, in sub-group analyses, dietary cholesterol and egg consumption were associated with increased CVD risk only among older adults with type 2 diabetes (HR (95% CI): 3.66 (1.09, 12.29) and 5.02 (1.63, 15.52), respectively, for the upper vs. lower tertile/group).

Conclusions: Dietary cholesterol and egg consumption were associated with increased CVD risk among older, community-dwelling adults with type 2 diabetes. Further research on the biological mechanism(s) for the increased CVD risk with higher dietary cholesterol and frequent egg consumption among older adults with diabetes is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Composition
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / adverse effects*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Eggs
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Pennsylvania
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tennessee


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, Dietary