OBJECTIVES:This study addressed whether food and nutrient intakes were correlated with skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site. METHODS:177 Greek-born subjects living in Melbourne (GRM), 69 Greek subjects living in rural Greece (GRG), 48 Anglo-Celtic Australian (ACA) elderly living in Melbourne and 159 Swedish subjects living in Sweden (SWE) participating in the International Union of Nutritional Sciences IUNS "Food Habits in Later Life" study had their dietary intakes measured and their skin assessed. Food and nutrient intakes were assessed using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Skin wrinkling was measured using a cutaneous microtopographic method. RESULTS:SWE elderly had the least skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site, followed by GRM, GRG and ACA. Correlation analyses on the pooled data and using the major food groups suggested that there may be less actinic skin damage with a higher intake of vegetables (r(s)=-0.31, p<0.0001), olive oil (r(s)=-0.29, p<0.0001), fish (r(s)=-0.24, p<0.0001) and legumes (r(s)=-0.16, p<0.0001), and lower intakes of butter (r(s)=0.46, p<0.0001) and margarine (r(s)=0.24, p<0.001), milk products (r(s)=0.16, p<0.01) and sugar products (r(s)=0.12, p<0.01). Similar findings were obtained using regression analyses, except fish was no longer significant; 32% of the variance for actinic skin damage was predicted by six out of the ten major food groups. In particular, a high intake of vegetables, legumes and olive oil appeared to be protective against cutaneous actinic damage (collectively explaining 20% of the variance); a high intake of meat, dairy and butter appeared to be adverse (explaining <5% of the variance). Prunes, apples and tea explained 34% of variance amongst ACA. CONCLUSION:This study illustrates that skin wrinkling in a sun-exposed site in older people of various ethnic backgrounds may be influenced by the types of foods consumed.