Development of the VEGANScreener, a Tool for a Quick Diet Quality Assessment among Vegans in Europe

Nutrients. 2024 Apr 29;16(9):1344. doi: 10.3390/nu16091344.


Background: Plant-based diets are not inherently healthy. Similar to omnivorous diets, they may contain excessive amounts of sugar, sodium, and saturated fats, or lack diversity. Moreover, vegans might be at risk of inadequate intake of certain vitamins and minerals commonly found in foods that they avoid. We developed the VEGANScreener, a tool designed to assess the diet quality of vegans in Europe.

Methods: Our approach combined best practices in developing diet quality metrics with scale development approaches and involved the following: (a) narrative literature synthesis, (b) evidence evaluation by an international panel of experts, and (c) translation of evidence into a diet screener. We employed a modified Delphi technique to gather opinions from an international expert panel.

Results: Twenty-five experts in the fields of nutrition, epidemiology, preventive medicine, and diet assessment participated in the first round, and nineteen participated in the subsequent round. Initially, these experts provided feedback on a pool of 38 proposed items from the literature review. Consequently, 35 revised items, with 17 having multiple versions, were suggested for further consideration. In the second round, 29 items were retained, and any residual issues were addressed in the final consensus meeting. The ultimate screener draft encompassed 29 questions, with 17 focusing on foods and nutrients to promote, and 12 addressing foods and nutrients to limit. The screener contained 24 food-based and 5 nutrient-based questions.

Conclusions: We elucidated the development process of the VEGANScreener, a novel diet quality screener for vegans. Future endeavors involve contrasting the VEGANScreener against benchmark diet assessment methodologies and nutritional biomarkers and testing its acceptance. Once validated, this instrument holds potential for deployment as a self-assessment application for vegans and as a preliminary dietary screening and counseling tool in healthcare settings.

Keywords: Delphi method; diet assessment; diet quality; diet screener; screener development; vegan diet.

MeSH terms

  • Delphi Technique
  • Diet, Vegan*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Assessment