The purpose of this paper is to present a first proposal of a healthy dietary diversity index to evaluate meals in self-service restaurants.
This was a cross-sectional, descriptive pilot study in a Brazilian buffet-style restaurant. The study group was selected by systematic sampling and consisted of 678 individuals aged 16-81 years, who were regular diners at a selected restaurant during lunchtime. Photographs were used to assess food choices and a sociodemographic questionnaire was administered to the subjects. A healthy dietary diversity model was created following WHO recommendations and the Brazilian Food Guide. A consensus workshop was conducted with experts to discuss and classify certain dishes as more or less healthy (high/low energy density). The model attributed negative (−3.0-0.0) and positive (0.0-12.0) scores to different food groups. Higher scores meant greater diversity on the plate, and therefore a greater chance of a healthy meal (=9.0), while a lower score reflected a higher variety of energy-dense foods, such as fried dishes (=6.0).
Most diner’s plates (65.3 per cent) obtained low diversity score indexes (=6) and were considered inadequate, represented the dishes where intake should be controlled from a nutritional viewpoint (over caloric meal). There was a significant association between healthy diversity scores (=9.0) and low variety of high energy density dishes on the plates.
This method of assessing the healthy dietary diversity of a main meal could be tested as an innovative model for investigating the food choices of individuals who eat away from home.
The authors would like to express the thanks for the support from the Council for the Development of Postgraduate Personnel (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior, CAPES, Brazil).
Conflict of Interest: None of the authors have conflicts of interest.
Bernardo, G.L., Proença, R.P.d.C., Calvo, M.C.M., Fiates, G.M.R. and Hartwell, H. (2015), "Assessment of the healthy dietary diversity of a main meal in a self-service restaurant: A pilot study", British Food Journal, Vol. 117 No. 1, pp. 286-301. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-08-2013-0215
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