Relative validity and reliability of a diet risk score (DRS) for clinical practice

Emily A. Johnston, Kristina S. Petersen, Jeannette M. Beasley, Tobias Krussig, Diane C. Mitchell, Linda V. Van Horn, Rick Weiss, Penny M. Kris-Etherton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Introduction Adherence to cardioprotective dietary patterns can reduce risk for developing cardiometabolic disease. Rates of diet assessment and counselling by physicians are low. Use of a diet screener that rapidly identifies individuals at higher risk due to suboptimal dietary choices could increase diet assessment and brief counselling in clinical care. Methods We evaluated the relative validity and reliability of a 9-item diet risk score (DRS) based on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI)-2015, a comprehensive measure of diet quality calculated from a 160-item, validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). We hypothesised that DRS (0 (low risk) to 27 (high risk)) would inversely correlate with HEI-2015 score. Adults aged 35 to 75 years were recruited from a national research volunteer registry ( and completed the DRS and FFQ in random order on one occasion. To measure reliability, participants repeated the DRS within 3 months. Results In total, 126 adults (87% female) completed the study. Mean HEI-2015 score was 63.3 (95% CI: 61.1 to 65.4); mean DRS was 11.8 (95% CI: 10.8 to 12.8). DRS and HEI-2015 scores were inversely correlated (r=-0.6, p<0.001; R 2 =0.36). The DRS ranked 37% (n=47) of subjects in the same quintile, 41% (n=52) within ±1 quintile of the HEI-2015 (weighted κ: 0.28). The DRS had high reliability (n=102, ICC: 0.83). DRS mean completion time was 2 min. Conclusions The DRS is a brief diet assessment tool, validated against a FFQ, that can reliably identify patients with reported suboptimal intake. Future studies should evaluate the effectiveness of DRS-guided diet assessment in clinical care. Trial registration details (NCT03805373).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000080
Pages (from-to)263-269
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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