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Diet Quality Index: Capturing a Multidimensional Behavior


Patterson, Ruth E.; Haines, Pamela S.; & Popkin, Barry M. (1994). Diet Quality Index: Capturing a Multidimensional Behavior. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 94, 57-65.


OBJECTIVE: Data for 5,484 adults (aged 21 years and older) who participated in the 1987-88 Nationwide Food Consumption Survey (NFCS) were used to develop an index of overall dietary intake that related to the major, diet-related, chronic diseases in the United States. The low response rate of the 1987-88 NFCS has raised concerns about potential bias, but this large data set is useful for methodologic studies and research that does not attempt to generalize the results to the US population.
ANALYSES: Dietary recommendations from the 1989 National Academy of Sciences publication Diet and Health were stratified into three levels of intake for scoring. Individuals who met a dietary goal were given a score of zero. Those who did not meet a goal, but had a fair diet, were given one point, and those who had a poor diet were given two points. These points were summed across eight diet variables to score the index from zero (excellent diet) to 16 (poor diet).
RESULTS: Lower index scores were positively associated with high intakes of other important measures of diet quality (eg, fiber, vitamin C). We found that single nutrients (such as dietary fat) were not necessarily associated with other measures of diet quality.
CONCLUSION: We concluded that this index ranking of overall dietary patterns was reflective of total diet quality, though substantial misclassification can result from using single nutrients or foods as indicators of diet quality.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of the American Dietetic Association


Patterson, Ruth E.
Haines, Pamela S.
Popkin, Barry M.