There is evidence supporting the importance of a healthy diet; however, there are few studies analyzing the seasonal variation of food intake. The present study was aimed to evaluate seasonal variation of food and energy intake in Spanish elderly also to investigate diet quality based on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score. From a cross-sectional study, 28 individuals (39% males) aged over 55 years volunteered for a longitudinal follow-up. Dietary assessment was evaluated through 24-h dietary recalls. Energy and nutrient intake were calculated using DIAL software. Furthermore, diet quality was measured using HEI. Data was analyzed considering the interaction of sex, age, fitness status, and body composition. Cereals intake was significantly lower in summer than in winter and autumn (both p < 0.05); whereas, drinks intake was significantly higher in summer than in winter, spring, and autumn (all p < 0.01). Daily energy intake was significant higher in spring than in summer, and in autumn than in summer (p < 0.05), and energy intake from lunch was also statistically higher in spring than in summer (p < 0.01). The HEI was classified as good; however, a negative and significant association was observed between HEI and cholesterol, alcohol, and monounsaturated fatty acids intake (p < 0.01). Cereals and drinks intake and total daily energy intake changed according to seasons. This should be considered in nutritional studies. Diet quality seems not to be affected by these seasonal changes, and HEI did not show a good association with the majority of foods and macro- and micronutrients.
Keywords: Elderly; Food habits; Food intake; Physical fitness; Seasonal variation.