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J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3):647-51.

A new index to measure healthy food diversity better reflects a healthy diet than traditional measures.

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Department of Food Economics and Consumption Studies, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, D-24098 Kiel, Germany.


The recommendation to eat diverse types of foodstuffs is an internationally accepted recommendation for a healthy diet. The importance of dietary variety is based on several studies that have shown that diverse diets are accompanied by positive health outcomes. However, the definition and measurement of healthy food diversity are often criticized in the literature. Nutritional studies generally use count indices to quantify food diversity. As these measures have considerable disadvantages, several nutritionists have called for a precise definition and measurement of food diversity. This study aimed to develop a new healthy food diversity indicator. This index is based on a distribution measure mainly applied in economic and ecological studies. It considers 3 aspects important for healthy food diversity: number, distribution, and health value of consumed foods. We have validated the new index using energy-adjusted correlations with diet quality indicators. A comparison with selected traditional diversity indices revealed that the new indicator more appropriately reflected healthy food diversity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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