A critical review of predefined diet quality scores

P.M.C.M. Waijers, E.J.M. Feskens, M.C. Ocke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

497 Citations (Scopus)


The literature on predefined indexes of overall diet quality is reviewed. Their association with nutrient adequacy and health outcome is considered, but our primary interest is in the make-up of the scores. In total, twenty different indexes have been reviewed, four of which have gained most attention, and many others were based on those four. The various scores differ in many respects, such as the items included, the cut-off values used, and the exact method of scoring, indicating that many arbitrary choices have been made. Correlations in intake between dietary components may not be adequately addressed. In general, diet quality scores show an association with mortality or disease risk, but these relations are generally modest. Existing indexes do not predict morbidity or mortality significantly better than individual dietary factors. Although conclusions from the review may provide guidance in the construction of a diet quality score, it is questionable whether a dietary score can be obtained that is a much better predictor of health outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-231
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • coronary-heart-disease
  • major chronic disease
  • healthy eating index
  • mediterranean southern france
  • food-frequency questionnaire
  • nutrition examination survey
  • guidelines-for-americans
  • alpha-linolenic acid
  • whole-grain intake
  • life-style factors


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