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Diet quality on meatless days: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2007–2012

Zach Conrad, Micaela Karlsen, Kenneth Chui, Lisa Jahns
Public health nutrition 2017 v.20 no.9 pp. 1564-1573
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, adults, cross-sectional studies, diet recall, game birds, health information, healthy diet, legumes, meat, meat consumption, nutritional adequacy, nuts, polyunsaturated fatty acids, poultry, seafoods, vegetables, vegetarian diet
To compare diet quality scores between adult non-meat eaters and meat eaters, and to compare the consumption of diet components across quintiles of diet quality. Cross-sectional analysis. The Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) were used to assess mean diet quality. Differences in consumption of diet components between quintiles of diet quality were tested using post hoc Wald tests and z tests. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2007–2012. The sample consisted of 16810 respondents aged≥18 years, including 280 individuals who reported not consuming meat, poultry, game birds or seafood on two non-consecutive days of dietary recall. Dietary data were obtained from one dietary recall per individual. Non-meat eaters had substantially greater HEI-2010 and AHEI-2010 scores than meat eaters (P<0·05). Among non-meat eaters, mean consumption across HEI-2010 quintiles demonstrated different (P<0·05) amounts of empty calories and unsaturated:saturated fatty acids. Mean consumption across AHEI-2010 quintiles demonstrated different (P<0·05) amounts of nuts and legumes, vegetables and PUFA. Public health messages targeted at vegetarians and others who may choose to eat meat-free on certain days should emphasize decreased consumption of empty calories, and increased consumption of nuts and legumes, PUFA and vegetables, as a way to improve overall dietary quality.