Higher Levels of Physical Activity are Associated with Greater Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Older Adults

Cindy M.T. van der Avoort*, D.S.M. Ten Haaf, J.H.M. De Vries, L.B. Verdijk, L.J.C. Van Loon, T.M.H. Eijsvogels, M.T.E. Hopman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: High levels of physical activity (PA) and optimal nutrition independently improve healthy aging, but few data are available about how PA may influence food preferences in older populations. Therefore, the aim of our study was to establish if there is an association between habitual PA and intake of nutrient-dense foods (i.e. fruits and vegetables). Design: A cross-sectional survey was conducted. Setting: The Netherlands. Participants: 2466 older adults (56% male, age 62±9 yr). Measurements: PA was assessed using the short questionnaire to assess health (SQUASH) and participants were classified into quintiles of weekly PA (MET-h/wk). Total fruit and vegetable intake was assessed using a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and were corrected for energy intake (g/kcal/d) in the analyses. Multiple regression analyses were performed to determine the association between PA and fruit and vegetable intake, including covariates. Results: Being in the higher quintiles of PA (Q3, Q4 and Q5) was positively associated with more daily fruit and vegetable consumption, even after correction for total energy intake (Q3; β=0.089, P<0.001, Q4; β=0.047, P=0.024, Q5; β=0.098, P<0.001). Conclusions: Older adults who are moderately to highly physically active tend to consume more fruit and vegetable compared to less active peers, when corrected for total energy intake. Female gender, under- and overreporting dietary intake (Goldberg score), non-smoking, high level of education, less alcohol consumption and a lower body mass index positivity affected this relationship. Our data will help health-care professionals to accelerate their efforts to treat and prevent chronic diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-241
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number2
Early online date29 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • chronic diseases
  • healthy aging
  • Healthy eating
  • lifestyle interventions


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