Background: Although many studies have examined health effects of infant feeding, studies on diet quality shortly after the weaning and lactation period are scarce. Objectives: Our aims were to develop and evaluate a diet score that measures overall diet quality in preschool children and to examine the sociodemographic and lifestyle determinants of this score. Methods: On the basis of national and international dietary guidelines for young children, we developed a diet score containing 10 components: intake of vegetables; fruit; bread and cereals; rice, pasta, potatoes, and legumes; dairy; meat and eggs; fish; oils and fats; candy and snacks; and sugar-sweetened beverages. The total score ranged from 0 to 10 on a continuous scale and was standardized to an energy intake of 1200 kcal/d with the residual method. The score was evaluated in 3629 children participating in the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study. Food consumption was assessed with a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at a median age of 13 mo. Results: Themean6 SD diet scorewas 4.16 1.3. The food-based diet scorewas positively associatedwith intakes ofmany nutrients, including n-3 (v-3) fatty acids [FAs; 0.25 SD increase (95% CI: 0.22, 0.27) per 1 point increase in the diet score], dietary fiber [0.32 (95%CI: 0.30, 0.34)], and calcium [0.13 (95%CI: 0.11, 0.16)], and was inversely associated with intakes of sugars [20.28 (95%CI:20.31,20.26)] and saturated fat [20.03 (95%CI:20.05,20.01)]. A higher diet scorewas associated with several health-conscious behaviors, such as maternal folic acid supplement use during pregnancy, no smoking during pregnancy, and children watching less television. Conclusion: We developed a novel food-based diet score for preschool children that could be applied in future studies to compare diet quality in early childhood and to investigate associations between diet in early childhood and growth, health, and development.

, , , , , , , , ,,
The Journal of Nutrition
Department of Pediatrics

Voortman, T., Kiefte-de Jong, J., Geelen, A., Villamor, E., Moll, H., de Jongste, J., … van den Hooven, E. (2015). The development of a diet quality score for preschool children and its validation and determinants in the generation R study. The Journal of Nutrition, 145(2), 306–314. doi:10.3945/jn.114.199349