Diet and overall survival in a cohort of very elderly people

Cristina Fortes, Francesco Forastiere, Sara Farchi, Elisabetta Rapiti, Gianni Pastori, Carlo A. Perucci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We conducted a 5-year cohort study among 162 self-sufficient residents in a public home for the elderly in Rome, Italy, to evaluate the association between the consumption of specific food groups and nutrients and overall 5- year survival. We used a validated, semiquantitative food-frequency questionnaire to assess diet at baseline. Individuals consuming citrus fruit at least twice a week had an adjusted risk of dying that was half that of individuals who consumed citrus fruit less than once a week [relative risk (RR) = 0.52; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.28-0.95] (with adjustment for gender, age, education, body mass index, smoking status, cognitive function, and chronic diseases). The adjusted RRs of mortality were 0.38 (95% CI = 0.14-1.01) for consumption of milk and yogurt at least three times a week vs less than once a week; 0.21 (95% CI = 0.08-0.35) for moderate consumption of espresso coffee (1-2 cups weekly) vs less than once a week; and 0.35 (95% CI = 0.17-0.69) for >2 cups a week of espresso coffee vs less than once a week. High levels of intake of ascorbic acid, riboflavin, and linoleic acid were associated with 50-60% decreases in mortality risk. High consumption of meat was associated with a higher risk of mortality (RR = 9.72; 95% CI = 2.68- 35.1) among subjects with chronic diseases. Our findings indicate that frequent consumption of citrus fruit, milk, and yogurt; low consumption of meat; and high intake of vitamin C, riboflavin, and linoleic acid are associated with longevity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-445
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000


  • Aging
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Diet
  • Fatty acids
  • Fruit consumption
  • Mortality
  • Riboflavin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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