Background: Diet quality tools provide researchers with brief methods to assess the nutrient adequacy of usual dietary intake. This study describes the development and validation of a pediatric diet quality index, the Australian Recommended Food Scores for Pre-schoolers (ARFS-P), for use with children aged two to five years.
Methods: The ARFS-P was derived from a 120-item food frequency questionnaire, with eight sub-scales, and was scored from zero to 73. Linear regressions were used to estimate the relationship between diet quality score and nutrient intakes, in 142 children (mean age 4 years) in rural localities in New South Wales, Australia.
Results: Total ARFS-P and component scores were highly related to dietary intake of the majority of macronutrients and micronutrients including protein, β-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin A. Total ARFS-P was also positively related to total consumption of nutrient dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and negatively related to total consumption of discretionary choices, such as sugar sweetened drinks and packaged snacks.
Conclusion: ARFS-P is a valid measure that can be used to characterize nutrient intakes for children aged two to five years. Further research could assess the utility of the ARFS-P for monitoring of usual dietary intake over time or as part of clinical management.