Objective: To evaluate dietary habits in Spanish children and adolescents based on a Mediterranean Diet Quality Index tool, which considers certain principles sustaining and challenging traditional healthy Mediterranean dietary patterns.
Design: Observational population-based cross-sectional study. A 16-item Mediterranean Diet Quality Index was included in data gathered for the EnKid study (in which two 24-hour recalls, a quantitative 169-item food-frequency questionnaire and a general questionnaire about socio-economic, demographic and lifestyle items were administered).
Subjects: In total, 3850 children and youths aged 2-24 years residing in Spain.
Results: Of the sample, 4.2% showed very low KIDMED index results, 49.4% had intermediate values and 46.4% had high index results. Important geographical differences were seen, with subjects from the Northeast showing the most favourable outcomes (52% with elevated scores vs. 37.5% of those from the North). Lower percentages of high diet quality were observed in low socio-economic groups, compared with middle and upper income cohorts (42.8%, 47.6% and 54.9%, respectively). Large cities had more positive results and only slight variations were seen for gender and age.
Conclusions: The KIDMED index, the first to evaluate the adequacy of Mediterranean dietary patterns in children and youth, confirms that this collective is undergoing important changes, which makes them a priority target for nutrition interventions. Results challenge certain commonly perceived notions tied to income level, population size and diet quality.