Body Mass Index, Poor Diet Quality, and Health-Related Quality of Life Are Associated With Mortality in Rural Older Adults

Dara W. Ford, Terryl J. Hartman, Christopher Still, Craig Wood, Diane C. Mitchell, Pennifer Erickson, Regan Bailey, Helen Smiciklas-Wright, Donna L. Coffman, Gordon L. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


In an aging population, potentially modifiable factors impacting mortality such as diet quality, body mass index (BMI), and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) are of interest. Surviving members of the Geisinger Rural Aging Study (GRAS) (n = 5,993; aged?74 years) were contacted in the fall of 2009. Participants in the present study were the 2,995 (1,267 male, 1,728 female; mean age 81.4 ± 4.4 years) who completed dietary and demographic questionnaires and were enrolled in the Geisinger Health Plan over follow-up (mean = 3.1 years). Cox proportional hazards multivariate regression models were used to examine the associations between all-cause mortality and BMI, diet quality, and HRQOL. Compared to GRAS participants with BMIs in the normal range, a BMI < 18.5 was associated with increased mortality (HR 1.85 95%CI 1.09, 3.14, P = 0.02), while a BMI of 25-29.9 was associated with decreased risk of mortality (HR 0.71 95%CI 0.55, 0.91, P =0.007). Poor diet quality increased risk for mortality (HR 1.53 95%CI 1.06, 2.22, P = 0.02). Finally, favorable health-related quality of life was inversely associated with mortality (HR 0.09 95%CI 0.06, 0.13, P < 0.0001). Higher diet quality and HALex scores, and overweight status, were associated with reduced all-cause mortality in a cohort of advanced age. While underweight (BMI < 18.5) increased risk of all-cause mortality, no association was found between obesity and all-cause mortality in this aged cohort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-34
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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