Dietary Risk Factors by Race/Ethnicity, Age-Group, and Gender in a Representative Sample of US Older Adults

J Nutr Health Aging. 2017;21(6):704-709. doi: 10.1007/s12603-016-0744-8.


Objective: To explore the relationships among ethnicity/race, gender, demographics, age-group and dietary health in a nationally representative sample of older adults.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Data for this study were collected by interview in the mobile examination centers from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2011 - 2012.

Participants: U.S. representative sample of adults aged 55 years and older (N = 1860) from five ethnic/racial groups. All participants read, understood, and signed informed consent forms under data collection procedures by trained individuals.

Measurements: Sociodemographics were collected by trained interviewers using a general questionnaire. Food groups were determined by 24-hour recall using the validated USDA Automated Multiple-Pass Method. Data were presented by cross-tabulation and logistic regression to investigate relationships among race/ethnicity, gender, and age groups.

Results: Over 70% of older adults failed to consume 2.75 cups of combined fruits and vegetables. Other Hispanics (Hispanics excluding Mexican Americans) had higher Odds of sugar-containing food consumption compared to non-Hispanic Whites (adjusted model). Being older and female were protective factors for over-consumption of sugar.

Conclusion: Older Americans are not meeting dietary guidelines and there are differences by gender and ethnicity. Since diet has been associated with quality of life and medical costs, public health interventions can benefit by knowing age-, gender- and racial/ethnic- specific dietary behaviors.

Keywords: Age-group; fat intake; foods with added sugar; gender; race/ethnicity.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Dietary Fats / analysis*
  • Dietary Sucrose / analysis*
  • Feeding Behavior / ethnology*
  • Fees and Charges
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Vegetables


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Sucrose