Objective: To identify longitudinal food group consumption trends and the relationship to perceived changes in diet, health, and functioning.
Design: A prospective longitudinal study.
Participants: Seven hundred and thirty-six community-dwelling Canadian men (mean age: 2000=79.4 yrs; 2005=84.5 yrs) participating in the Manitoba Follow-up Study.
Measurements: Self-reported food consumption, self-rated diet and health, life satisfaction, physical and mental functioning from questionnaires completed in 2000 and 2005.
Results: The majority of participants did not consume from all four food groups daily, based on Canada's Food Guide recommendations, with only 8% in 2000 and up to 15% in 2005. However, over a five year period, more men improved their consumption in each food group than declined. An association was found between change in the self-rating of the healthiness of their diet and change in consumption of vegetables and fruit, or grain products. Men whose self-rating of the healthiness of their diet remained high or improved between 2000 and 2005, were 2.15 times more likely (95% CI=1.45, 3.17) to also have increased consumption of vegetables and fruit, and 1.71 times more likely (95% CI=1.51, 2.54) to have increased consumption of grain products, relative to men whose self-rating of the healthiness of their diet declined between 2000 and 2005. Men who consumed more food groups daily had better mental and physical component scores.
Conclusion: Dietary improvements are possible in very old men. Greater daily food group consumption is associated with better mental and physical functioning. Given these positive findings, there is still a need to identify older men who require support to improve their dietary habits as nearly half of the participants consumed two or fewer groups daily.