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Open Access Research

Validity of the Australian Recommended Food Score as a diet quality index for Pre-schoolers

Tracy L Burrows12, Kate Collins1, Jane Watson12, Maya Guest13, May M Boggess34*, Melinda Neve12, Megan Rollo12, Kerith Duncanson125 and Clare E Collins12

Author Affiliations

1 Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308, NSW, Australia

2 Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308, NSW, Australia

3 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan 2308, NSW, Australia

4 School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe 85281, AZ, USA

5 Hunter New England Local Health District, Forster 2428, NSW, Australia

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Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:87  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-87

Published: 2 September 2014

Abstract

Background

Diet quality tools provide researchers with brief methods to assess the nutrient adequacy of usual dietary intake. This study describes the development and validation of a pediatric diet quality index, the Australian Recommended Food Scores for Pre-schoolers (ARFS-P), for use with children aged two to five years.

Methods

The ARFS-P was derived from a 120-item food frequency questionnaire, with eight sub-scales, and was scored from zero to 73. Linear regressions were used to estimate the relationship between diet quality score and nutrient intakes, in 142 children (mean age 4 years) in rural localities in New South Wales, Australia.

Results

Total ARFS-P and component scores were highly related to dietary intake of the majority of macronutrients and micronutrients including protein, β-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A. Total ARFS-P was also positively related to total consumption of nutrient dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and negatively related to total consumption of discretionary choices, such as sugar sweetened drinks and packaged snacks.

Conclusion

ARFS-P is a valid measure that can be used to characterise nutrient intakes for children aged two to five years. Further research could assess the utility of the ARFS-P for monitoring of usual dietary intake over time or as part of clinical management.

Keywords:
Diet quality index; Food frequency questionnaire; Pre-schoolers; Nutritional adequacy