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BACKGROUND: recent studies suggest that diet may affect the physical performance of older adults, but the impact of variations in the UK diet on physical performance has not been assessed. OBJECTIVE: to examine relationships between diet and physical performance in community-dwelling older men and women. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: a total of 628 men and women aged 63-73 years who were taking part in the Hertfordshire Cohort Study. METHODS: diet was assessed using an administered food frequency questionnaire; physical performance was assessed by the time taken to complete a 3-m walk, chair-rise test and one-legged balance test. RESULTS: in women, higher intakes of the antioxidant nutrients, β-carotene and selenium, were associated with shorter 3-m walk times; higher β-carotene and vitamin C intakes were associated with shorter chair-rise times (all P < 0.05). Higher vitamin D intakes and percentage energy from protein were also associated with faster 3-m walk times (both P < 0.05), but they were not related to chair-rise time. There were no associations between any measure of dietary intake and balance in the women studied. After adjustment for the effects of confounding influences, we found no associations between diet and physical performance among men. CONCLUSIONS: these data indicate that variations in the diets of community-dwelling older women may be linked to differences in physical performance, but further work is needed to determine the role of variations in diet on physical performance and its decline with age among older adults in the UK.

Original publication




Journal article


Age ageing

Publication Date





181 - 186


Age Factors, Aged, Aging, Antioxidants, Cohort Studies, Diet, Diet Records, Diet Surveys, Dietary Proteins, England, Exercise Test, Female, Humans, Independent Living, Linear Models, Logistic Models, Male, Middle Aged, Motor Activity, Muscle Strength, Nutritional Status, Postural Balance, Sex Factors, Vitamin D, Walking