Background: The aim of this paper is to present the development of the Feel4Diabetes Healthy Diet Score and to evaluate its clinical validity.
Methods: Study population consisted of 3268 adults (63% women) from high diabetes risk families living in 6 European countries. Participants filled in questionnaires at baseline and after 1 year, reflecting the dietary goals of the Feel4Diabetes intervention. Based on these questions the Healthy Diet Score was constructed, consisting of the following components: breakfast, vegetables, fruit and berries, sugary drinks, whole-grain cereals, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy products, oils and fats, red meat, sweet snacks, salty snacks, and family meals. Maximum score for each component was set based on its estimated relative importance regarding T2DM risk, higher score indicating better quality of diet. Clinical measurements included height, weight, waist circumference, heart rate, blood pressure, and fasting blood sampling, with analyses of glucose, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides. Analysis of (co) variance was used to compare the Healthy Diet Score and its components between countries and sexes using baseline data, and to test differences in clinical characteristics between score categories, adjusted for age, sex and country. Pearson's correlations were used to study the association between changes from baseline to year 1 in the Healthy Diet Score and clinical markers. To estimate reproducibility, Pearson's correlations were studied between baseline and 1 year score, within the control group only.
Results: The mean total score was 52.8 ± 12.8 among women and 46.6 ± 12.8 among men (p < 0.001). The total score and its components differed between countries. The change in the Healthy Diet Score was significantly correlated with changes in BMI, waist circumference, and total and LDL cholesterol. The Healthy Diet Score as well as its components at baseline were significantly correlated with the values at year 1, in the control group participants.
Conclusion: The Feel4Diabetes Healthy Diet Score is a reproducible method to capture the dietary information collected with the Feel4Diabetes questionnaire and measure the level of and changes in the adherence to the dietary goals of the intervention. It gives a simple parameter that associates with clinical risk factors in a meaningful manner.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT02393872. Registered March 20, 2015.
Keywords: Diet; Diet score; Evaluation; Intervention; Risk factors; Type 2 diabetes; Validity.