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.