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Am J Epidemiol. 2019 Jul 1;188(7):1304-1310. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwz087.

Does Season of Reported Dietary Intake Influence Diet Quality? Analysis From the Women's Health Initiative.

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Biobehavioral Health Sciences Division, College of Nursing, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
University of Arizona Cancer Center, Tucson, Arizona.
Medical Biochemistry Department, National Research Centre, Giza, Egypt.
Department of Health Promotion Sciences, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.
Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
Division of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois.
Division of Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.


We evaluated the role of seasonality in self-reported diet quality among postmenopausal women participating in the Women's Health Initiative (WHI). A total of 156,911 women completed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) at enrollment (1993-1998). FFQ responses reflected intake over the prior 3-month period, and seasons were defined as spring (March-May), summer (June-August), fall (September-November), and winter (December-February). FFQ data were used to calculate the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), a measure of diet quality that has a score range of 2.5-87.5, with higher scores representing better diet quality. In multivariable linear regression models using winter as the reference season, AHEI scores were higher in spring, summer, and fall (all P values < 0.05); although significant, the variance was minimal (mean AHEI score: winter, 41.7 (standard deviation, 11.3); summer, 42.2 (standard deviation, 11.3)). Applying these findings to hypothesis-driven association analysis of diet quality and its relationship with chronic disease risk (cardiovascular disease) showed that controlling for season had no effect on the estimated hazard ratios. Although significant differences in diet quality across seasons can be detected in this population of US postmenopausal women, these differences are not substantial enough to warrant consideration in association studies of diet quality.


diet quality; dietary measurement; season; women’s health

[Available on 2020-07-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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