We examined whether adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet has positive effects on mobility assessed over a 9-year follow-up in a representative sample of older adults. This research is part of the InCHIANTI Study, a prospective population-based study of older persons in Tuscany, Italy. The sample for this analysis included 935 women and men aged 65 years and older. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed at baseline by the standard 10-unit Mediterranean diet score (MDS). Lower extremity function was measured at baseline, and at the 3-, 6- and 9-year follow-up visits using the short physical performance battery (SPPB). At baseline, higher adherence to Mediterranean diet was associated with better lower body performance. Participants with higher adherence experienced less decline in SPPB score, which was of 0.9 points higher (p<.0001) at the 3-year-follow, 1.1 points higher (p=0.0004) at the 6-year follow-up and 0.9 points higher (p=0.04) at the 9-year follow-up compared to those with lower adherence. Among participants free of mobility disability at baseline, those with higher adherence had a lower risk (HR=0.71, 95% CI=0.51-0.98, p=0.04) of developing new mobility disability. High adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a slower decline of mobility over time in community-dwelling older persons. If replicated, this observation is highly relevant in terms of public health.
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