Association of Pasta Consumption with Diet Quality and Nutrients of Public Health Concern in Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2012

Curr Dev Nutr. 2017 Sep 19;1(10):e001271. doi: 10.3945/cdn.117.001271. eCollection 2017 Oct.


Background: Pasta is a commonly consumed food in the United States; however, little is known about pasta consumption and nutrient intake and diet quality. Objective: This study examined the association between pasta consumption and diet quality. Methods: This was a cross-sectional data analysis of 10,697 US adults from the NHANES 2009-2012, a nationally representative survey. The main outcome measures were diet quality as assessed by the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010), nutrient intakes, and dietary patterns. Cluster analysis was used among pasta consumers to characterize dietary patterns. Regression analyses determined differences between groups. Results: Overall mean diet quality was similar between pasta consumers and nonconsumers. However, consumers of "pasta, noodles" had 5.6% higher HEI-2010 scores; HEI-2010 scores were 7.9% lower in those who ate "macaroni and cheese." Consumers of pasta, "pasta, noodles," and "pasta mixed dishes, excluding macaroni and cheese" ("pasta mixed dishes") had higher dietary fiber intakes by 11.0-13.6% (range: 1.89-2.35 g/d). Consumption of "pasta mixed dishes" was associated with a 5% increase in both potassium and sodium intakes (∼150 and 190 mg/d, respectively). Cluster analyses identified pasta-eating patterns that are associated with both increased and decreased diet quality compared with nonconsumers. Conclusions: Different dietary patterns exist with regard to pasta consumption. These pasta patterns contribute in different ways to diet quality and intakes of fiber, sodium, and potassium. Therefore, it is critical to separate types of pasta and pasta dishes before relating to dietary intakes.

Keywords: Healthy Eating Index (HEI); National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); cluster analysis; diet quality; nutrient intake; pasta.