Diet May Influence Mobility in Aging Parents

August 1, 2016

A healthy diet is good for aging parents.

It’s no news that what one eats has an impact on many areas of life. Now a new study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital indicates that dietary choices over time can have a long term impact on the future mobility of aging parents. While the study looks only at females, it is possible that the results may be similar for men as well.

The Study

The study is given the title “Greater Adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index is Associated with Lower Incidence of Physical Function Impairment in the Nurses’ Health Study.” It is being published in the Journal of Nutrition, a peer-reviewed medical publication.

This study examined data from almost 55,000 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study. Researchers looked at self-reported dietary data and cross-referenced it with physical function information. The dietary data was collected regularly beginning in 1980, and the physical function data was collected from 1992 to 2008.

Since the effect of a healthy diet on other factors is well known, the researchers wondered if there would be a connection between eating healthy and having fewer mobility issues later in life. The answer, at least for the women in this study, was yes.


Based on the specific results, it appears that higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, lower intakes of sugar-sweetened beverages and foods containing trans fat and sodium, and moderate alcohol consumption were associated with a decreased risk of physical function difficulties.

Among individual foods, there seemed to be a strong association between oranges, orange juice, apples, pears, lettuces, and walnuts and better mobility; however, the researchers stress that it is the overall diet that has the greatest impact rather than any individual food choices.

Since mobility is often a major concern for aging parents, sticking to a healthy diet may be one option to consider. Again, this study focused solely on women, but aging parents of either gender may want to consider healthy dietary changes; however, consulting with a doctor and/or nutritionist is a good idea before making any major dietary changes.


Jason Sager

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