British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Dietary Surveys and Nutritional Epidemiology

Retrospective lifetime dietary patterns are associated with demographic and cardiovascular health variables in an older community-dwelling Australian population

Diane Hoskinga1a2 c1 and Vanessa Danthiira2

a1 School of Psychology, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

a2 CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences, Preventative Health Flagship, PO Box 10041, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia


Dietary patterns derived from factor analytic procedures have been demonstrated to predict demographic and health outcomes across a wide range of populations. To examine the potential utility of long-term dietary recall, in the present study, we examined associations between dietary patterns from across the lifespan and demographic and later-life cardiovascular-related health variables, using the Lifetime Diet Questionnaire (LDQ). The LDQ is a self-administered, non-quantitative, retrospective FFQ designed to assess dietary intake from childhood to older age. Participants (n 352) from the Older People, Omega-3 and Cognitive Health trial, aged 65–91 years, completed the LDQ. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted on the LDQ and plausible dietary patterns were derived. As a result, three patterns were extracted from each life period, with five distinct patterns overall; these were ‘traditional Australian’ and ‘non-traditional Australian’, ‘high-sugar and high-fat’, ‘vegetable’ and ‘fruit and vegetable’ patterns. In separate adjusted regression models, age, sex, education, income, parental background and childhood physical activity all significantly predicted dietary patterns across the lifespan. A ‘traditional Australian’ pattern in childhood predicted higher HDL-cholesterol levels and lower odds of cholesterol medication use; lower HDL-cholesterol levels were predicted by the adult ‘processed, high-sugar and high-fat’ pattern, and higher intake of a ‘non-traditional Australian’ pattern in adulthood also predicted lower odds of using cardiac medications. Lifetime dietary recall, as instantiated by the LDQ, provides a hitherto untapped source of long-term dietary information in older adults that may contribute to greater understanding of the impact exerted by early-life and cumulative dietary choices on later-life health.

(Received May 25 2012)

(Revised April 04 2013)

(Accepted April 08 2013)

(Online publication June 03 2013)

Key Words:

  • Lifetime Diet Questionnaire;
  • Long-term dietary recalls;
  • Dietary patterns;
  • Cardiovascular health


c1 Corresponding author: D. Hosking, fax +61 8 3038899, email


  Abbreviations: CCFFQ, Cancer Council FFQ; CSIRO, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation; EFA, exploratory factor analysis; EPOCH, Older People, Omega-3 and Cognitive Health; LDQ, Lifetime Diet Questionnaire