Background: Demographic characteristics and beverage choices may affect diet quality.
Objective: To estimate the independent associations between consumption of food categories of the US Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid, beverage consumption, gender, age, family income, and race/ethnicity with the Healthy Eating Index (HEI).
Methods: Data from the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals 1994-96, 1998 were used to develop multiple regression models of demographics and food and beverage consumption regressed on the HEI.
Results: After adolescence (13-19 years), males consistently had a lower diet quality than females. Young adults (20-29 years) had the poorest diet quality. Family income had a positive association with the HEI. Controlling for income, African-Americans had lower HEI scores than other race/ethnicity groups. Caucasians consumed significantly more milk products than did the other race/ethnicity groups. Consumption of beverages had a weak but positive association with the HEI.
Conclusions: Family income and race/ethnicity have unique and independent associations with the HEI and dietary patterns.