The role of socioeconomic status and overall dietary quality on physical and psychosocial functioning in older adults

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Title: The role of socioeconomic status and overall dietary quality on physical and psychosocial functioning in older adults
Author: Finne, Maria
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Food and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2017
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Näringslära
Abstract: The proportion of older adults has dramatically increased in developed countries due to longer life expectancy. The wellbeing of this group has large economic implications. Self-rated health (SRH) is a globally used method to measure both physical and psychosocial health and in some conditions considered as a better indicator than medical records. The main aim of this thesis was to study whether socioeconomic (SES) factors as well as nutritional intake are associated with physical and psychosocial SF-36 score change during a ten year period. Helsinki Birth Cohort Study (HBCS) consists of 8760 participants who were born at Helsinki University Central Hospital between 1934 and 1944. HBCS is a longitudinal study where data has been collected along the life span. In this thesis material was used from the baseline clinical visit (years 2001-2004) and the follow-up clinical visit (years 2011-2013). During the follow-up, 1094 participants (men n=478, women n=616) were traceable and took part in the follow-up visit which makes the participants 67 to 77 years old at that point. At the baseline clinical examination (n=2003), diet was assessed with a validated food-frequency questionnaire from which the Baltic Sea diet score (BSDS) was calculated. Higher scores indicated better adherence to the Baltic Sea diet. Self-rated psychosocial and physical wellbeing was assessed with the Short Form 36 scale (SF-36) in 2001-2004 and 2011-2013. The difference between baseline and follow-up SF-36 psychosocial and physical measurement was calculated. Socioeconomic indicators included degree of education, length of education and the average monthly taxable income. Men and women were studied separately. Also the group of those still in work life at baseline were evaluated separately from those who were already retired. Associations between BSDS and the SES factors were also tested. The statistical analysis program SPSS version 22 was used to calculate associations between the SES factors and BSDS with psychosocial and physical change. Linear regression method was used for the analyses. In addition, a comparison of the follow-up SF-36 scores according to socioeconomic factors were examined with ANOVA post hoc Tukey HSD test. Degree of education was positively associated with changes in psychosocial functioning at old age among men (p=0.009), whereas length of education associates positively among women (p=0.027). Both degree and length of education were positively associated with psychosocial functioning within the group that was still in work life at baseline. Change in physical functioning was not associated with SES or BSDS. Adherence to the BSD was not significantly associated with either of the SF-36 measurement factors but was related to higher income. Degree of education and length of education seem to indicate the direction of psychosocial functioning in early old age. Physical degeneration during late adulthood is normal and is less predictable by SES factors. BSDS did not predict physical or psychosocial wellbeing among this population but was positively associated with income among the participant.
Subject: elderly
self-rated health
socioeconomic status
Baltic sea diet score

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