We aimed to evaluate the criterion validity of the 2015 food-based Dutch dietary guidelines, which were formulated based on evidence on the relation between diet and major chronic diseases. We studied 9701 participants of the Rotterdam Study, a population-based prospective cohort in individuals aged 45 years and over [median 64.1 years (95%-range 49.0-82.8)]. Dietary intake was assessed at baseline with a food-frequency questionnaire. For all participants, we examined adherence (yes/no) to fourteen items of the guidelines: vegetables (≥200 g/day), fruit (≥200 g/day), whole-grains (≥90 g/day), legumes (≥135 g/week), nuts (≥15 g/day), dairy (≥350 g/day), fish (≥100 g/week), tea (≥450 mL/day), ratio whole-grains:total grains (≥50%), ratio unsaturated fats and oils:total fats (≥50%), red and processed meat (<300 g/week), sugar-containing beverages (≤150 mL/day), alcohol (≤10 g/day) and salt (≤6 g/day). Total adherence was calculated as sum-score of the adherence to the individual items (0-14). Information on disease incidence and all-cause mortality during a median follow-up period of 13.5 years (range 0-27.0) was obtained from data collected at our research center and from medical records. Using Cox proportional-hazards models adjusted for confounders, we observed every additional component adhered to was associated with a 3% lower mortality risk (HR 0.97, 95% CI 0.95; 0.98), lower risk of stroke (HR 0.95, 95% CI 0.92; 0.99), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.91; 0.98), colorectal cancer (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.84; 0.96), and depression (HR 0.97, 95% CI 0.95; 0.999), but not with incidence of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, heart failure, lung cancer, breast cancer, or dementia. These associations were not driven by any of the individual dietary components. To conclude, adherence to the Dutch dietary guidelines was associated with a lower mortality risk and a lower risk of developing some but not all of the chronic diseases on which the guidelines were based.
Keywords: Cancer; Cardiovascular disease; Cohort study; Diet quality; Neurological diseases; Validation.