Development and Validation of a Novel Food-Based Global Diet Quality Score (GDQS)

Sabri Bromage, Carolina Batis, Shilpa N. Bhupathiraju, Wafaie W. Fawzi, Teresa T. Fung, Yanping Li, Megan Deitchler, Erick Angulo, Nick Birk, Analí Castellanos-Gutiérrez, Yuna He, Yuehui Fang, Mika Matsuzaki, Yiwen Zhang, Mourad Moursi, Selma Gicevic, Michelle D. Holmes, Sheila Isanaka, Sanjay Kinra, Sonia E. SachsMeir J. Stampfer, Dalia Stern, Walter C. Willett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Poor diet quality is a major driver of both classical malnutrition and noncommunicable disease (NCD) and was responsible for 22% of adult deaths in 2017. Most countries face dual burdens of undernutrition and NCDs, yet no simple global standard metric exists for monitoring diet quality in populations and population subgroups. Objectives: We aimed to develop an easy-to-use metric for nutrient adequacy and diet related NCD risk in diverse settings. Methods: Using cross-sectional and cohort data from nonpregnant, nonlactating women of reproductive age in 10 African countries as well as China, India, Mexico, and the United States, we undertook secondary analyses to develop novel metrics of diet quality and to evaluate associations between metrics and nutrient intakes and adequacy, anthropometry, biomarkers, type 2 diabetes, and iteratively modified metric design to improve performance and to compare novel metric performance to that of existing metrics. Results: We developed the Global Diet Quality Score (GDQS), a food-based metric incorporating a more comprehensive list of food groups than most existing diet metrics, and a simple means of scoring consumed amounts. In secondary analyses, the GDQS performed comparably with the Minimum Dietary Diversity - Women indicator in predicting an energy-adjusted aggregate measure of dietary protein, fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A, folate, and vitamin B12 adequacy and with anthropometric and biochemical indicators of undernutrition (including underweight, anemia, and serum folate deficiency), and the GDQS also performed comparably or better than the Alternative Healthy Eating Index - 2010 in capturing NCD-related outcomes (including metabolic syndrome, change in weight and waist circumference, and incident type 2 diabetes). Conclusions: The simplicity of the GDQS and its ability to capture both nutrient adequacy and diet-related NCD risk render it a promising candidate for global monitoring platforms. Research is warranted to validate methods to operationalize GDQS assessment in population surveys, including a novel application-based 24-h recall system developed as part of this project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75S-92S
JournalJournal of Nutrition
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • GDQS
  • diet quality metrics
  • dietary diversity
  • double burden of malnutrition
  • monitoring and evaluation
  • noncommunicable disease
  • nutrient adequacy
  • nutrition surveillance
  • nutrition transition
  • nutritional epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Development and Validation of a Novel Food-Based Global Diet Quality Score (GDQS)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this