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To assess the dietary quality of older women with and without rheumatoid arthritis (RA) using the Healthy Eating Index-2005 (HEI-2005) to identify potential strategies to improve the nutritional status.
Cross-sectional. Diet was assessed using 7 d food records and analysed for nutrient composition (Food Processor v. 7·11). Diet quality was determined using the HEI-2005, a measure of compliance with 2005 US Dietary Guidelines. Individuals with RA completed a self-reported evaluation of arthritis (pain scale and disability index). Independent two-tailed t tests or Mann–Whitney tests compared the differences between groups and correlations were computed between HEI-2005 and measures of disease reactivity.
Older (≥ 55 years) women (n 108) with RA (n 52) and healthy controls (HC; n 56).
There were no differences between groups in age, weight, or BMI (kg/m2). HC participants had higher mean HEI-2005 scores for whole fruit (cups; P = 0·02), total fruit (cups; P = 0·05), whole grains (oz; P = 0·004), oil (g; P = 0·05) and total HEI score (P = 0·04) than the RA group. In the RA group, these same HEI components were inversely correlated with disability index (r = −0·20, P = 0·04). Participants with RA reported lower mean intakes of carbohydrate (g; P = 0·02), fibre (g; P = 0·01) and vitamin C (mg; P = 0·04).
This is the first study examining the dietary quality in older women with and without RA using the HEI-2005. Living with RA was associated with significantly lower dietary quality. Since even small changes in dietary quality can translate into better nutritional status, future interventions should focus on increasing dietary quality in this high-risk group.
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