Nutrients. 2021 May 26;13(6):1803. doi: 10.3390/nu13061803.
OBJECTIVE: We investigated cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of diet quality with middle-aged caregiver status.
METHODS: Caregiving in the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span (HANDLS) study (57.7% women, 62% African American (AA)) was measured at waves 3 (2009-2013) and 4 (2013-2017) (mean follow-up time 4.1 years). Diet quality was assessed by the Healthy Eating Index 2010 (HEI-2010) derived from two separate 24 h diet recalls. Multivariable ordinary least square regression was performed for cross-sectional analyses of the association of wave 4 caregiving with wave 4 HEI-2010. Wave 3 caregiving was examined both cross-sectionally and with annual rate of change in HEI using mixed-effects linear regression Models. Multivariable models were adjusted for age, sex, and poverty status.
RESULTS: Cross-sectional analyses at wave 4 demonstrate an inverse association of frequent caregiving (“Daily or Weekly” vs. “Never”) for grandchildren with HEI-2010 total score (i.e., lower diet quality) among Whites (β = -2.83 ± 1.19, p = 0.03, Model 2) and AAs (β = -1.84 ± 0.79, p = 0.02,). The “cross-sectional” analysis pertaining to grandchildren caregiving frequency suggested that frequent caregiving (i.e., “Daily or Weekly” vs. “Never” (β = -2.90 ± 1.17, p = 0.04)) only among Whites was inversely related to HEI-2010 total score. Total HEI-2010 score was also related to caring (Model 1), for the elderly over “5 years vs. Never” among Whites (-7.31 ± 3.54, p = 0.04, Model 2). Longitudinally, we found slight potential improvement in diet quality over time (“Daily or Weekly” vs. Never by TIME interaction: +0.88 ± 0.38, p = 0.02) with frequent caregiving among Whites, but not so among AAs.
CONCLUSIONS: Frequent caring for grandchildren had an inverse relationship with the diet quality of White and AA urban middle-aged caregivers, while caring for elderly was inversely linked to diet quality among Whites only. Longitudinal studies should address the paucity of research on caregivers’ nutritional quality.