Background Few studies have examined diet quality in older adults in Great Britain. We examined the influence of area of residence and early life social circumstances on dietary patterns among older British men.
Methods We conducted a cross-sectional study of 4252 older men (aged 60-79 years) from the British Regional Heart Study. Food frequency questionnaire data were used to examine daily fruit and vegetable consumption and to generate two dietary scores – the Healthy Diet Indicator (HDI) and the Elderly Dietary Index (EDI), with higher scores indicating greater compliance with dietary recommendations. Linear and logistic regression analyses assessed associations of adult and childhood social class (based on father’s occupation) and area of residence with dietary patterns, adjusting for age, energy intake, smoking, physical activity and body mass index.
Results Men with non-manual childhood social class had higher EDI scores (adjusted mean difference = 0.54, p < 0.001) and were slightly more likely to consume fruit and vegetables daily (OR 1.22 [95% CI 0.98, 1.51]), independent of adult social class. Men with non-manual adult social class also had higher EDI scores (adjusted mean difference = 1.30, p < 0.001) and were much more likely to consume fruit and vegetables daily (1.56 [1.26, 1.93]), independent of childhood social class. HDI score was not associated with childhood or adult social class. Region of birth and region of residence were related to daily fruit and vegetable consumption and to both HDI and EDI scores, with the highest consumption/scores seen in the Southern region and the lowest in Scotland.
Conclusion Dietary patterns in older men are influenced by area of residence and social class, with adult social class being more influential than early life social class in determining dietary patterns.