Background & aims: Mediterranean diet (MeDi) is considered as a key component for healthy aging, including prevention of age-related disability, while its association with frailty, independent of disability has never been assessed. Our objective was to investigate the relation between MeDi adherence and frailty incidence among persons aged ≥75 years participating at the prospective population-based French Three-City Study.
Methods: The study sample consisted of 560 initially non-frail participants of the Three-City-Bordeaux center, seen at the 2009-2010 follow-up, and re-examined two years later. Adherence to MeDi was computed from a food frequency questionnaire (scored as 0-9). Frailty was defined as having at least three out of the following five slightly modified Fried frailty criteria: involuntary weight loss, exhaustion, slowness, weakness and low physical activity. Logistic regression models adjusted for sociodemographic and clinical covariates, including cognitive performance and depressive symptomatology, were used to assess the association between MeDi score and subsequent frailty risk.
Results: Over the 2-year follow-up, 79 participants (14%) became frail. Older adults with the highest MeDi adherence (score 6-9) had a significantly 68% frailty risk reduction (95% CI: 28-86%, p = 0.006) compared to those in the lowest MeDi category (score 0-3). Regarding the frailty criterion separately, the highest MeDi adherence was associated with a significantly reduced risk of incident slowness (OR = 0.45; 95% CI: 0.20-0.99, p = 0.04), poor muscle strength (OR = 0.44; 95% CI: 0.20-0.98, p = 0.04) and low physical activity (OR = 0.39; 95% CI: 0.18-0.82, p = 0.01), compared to the lowest MeDi adherence.
Conclusion: In addition to its well-documented beneficial effects on health, adherence to MeDi might contribute to prevent the onset of frailty, even at late stages of life.
Keywords: Frailty risk; Late life; Mediterranean-type Diet.
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