The dietary variety score (DVS): Assessments of diet quality in young and in healthy older adults

Adam Drewnowski, Susan Ahlstrom Henderson, Alissa A. Driscoll, Barbara J. Rolls

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The most healthful diets are said to be those that are also the most varied However, few studies have defined dietary variety or explored its contribution to the quality of the total diet We have developed a new Dietary Variety Score (DVS) and linked it to the Diet Quality Index (DQI) and the analysis of core foods. The subjects were 24 young (ages 20-30 y) and 24 older (ages 60-75 y) men and women who maintained food records for 15 consecutive days. Older subjects were healthy free-living adults of high educational level and socioeconomic status. DVS was the cumulative number of different foods consumed during the 15-day period. The DQI was a 5-point scale based on conformity with the key USDA dietary guidelines, while core foods were the foods consumed a minimum of three times per week. Older subjects consumed more varied diets than did young subjects. While DVS did not predict greater adherence to dietary guidelines, higher DVS values were associated with lower intakes of salt, sugar and saturated fat. The present food-based analysis of dietary variety offers a new way of characterizing the total diet. Measures of dietary variety should be further linked to other measures of dietary quality or to selected health outcomes in large-scale epidemiological studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)A723
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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