Age, marital status and changes in dietary habits in later life: a 21-year follow-up among Finnish women

Public Health Nutr. 2012 Jul;15(7):1174-81. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012000602. Epub 2012 Apr 2.


Objective: To examine 21-year longitudinal changes in dietary habits and their associations with age and marital status among women aged 50-60 years at baseline.

Design: Prospective, longitudinal study of a cohort in the FINMONICA population-based risk factor survey with clinical assessments in 1982, 1992 and 2003. Dietary habits were assessed via self-reported consumption of foods typically contributing to SFA, cholesterol and sugar intakes in the Finnish diet. A dietary risk score based upon five items was used.

Setting: Kuopio region, Finland.

Subjects: Complete data from all three assessments for 103 women of the original cohort of 299 were included for two age groups: 50-54 and 55-60 years at baseline.

Results: Dietary habits improved between 1982 and 1992 and showed continued but less pronounced improvement between 1992 and 2003: within the younger age group, 78 % of the women reduced the number of dietary risk points from the 1982 to 2003 scores, whereas 3 % increased them and 19 % reported no change. In the older age group these percentages were 61 %, 23 % and 16 %, respectively. Women who remained married showed a steadier decline in dietary risk points than single women or women who were widows at the beginning of the follow-up.

Conclusions: Older women make positive changes to their dietary habits but the consistency of these changes may be affected by the ageing process, marital status and changes in the latter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Diet
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Marital Status / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires