Indices for the assessment of nutritional quality of meals: a systematic review

B.M. Gorgulho, G.K. Pot, F.M. Sarti, D.M. Marchioni

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This systematic review aimed to synthesise information on indices developed to evaluate nutritional quality of meals. A strategy for systematic search of the literature was developed using keywords related to assessment of meal quality. Databases searched included ScienceDirect, PubMed, Lilacs, SciELO, Scopus, Cochrane, Embase and Google Scholar. The literature search resulted in seven different meal quality indices. Each article was analysed in order to identify the following items: authors, country, year, study design, population characteristics, type of meal evaluated, dietary assessment method, characteristics evaluated (nutrients or food items), score range, index components, nutritional references, correlations performed, validation and relationship with an outcome (if existing). Two studies developed instruments to assess the quality of breakfast, three analysed lunch, one evaluated dinner and one was applied to all types of meals and snacks. All meal quality indices reviewed were based on the evaluation of presence or absence of food groups and relative contributions of nutrients, according to food-based guidelines or nutrient references, adapting the daily dietary recommendations to one specific meal. Most of the indices included three items as components for meal quality assessment: (I) total fat or some specific type of fat, (II) fruits and vegetables and (III) cereals or whole grains. This systematic review indicates aspects that need further research, particularly the numerous approaches to assessing meals considering different foods and nutrients, and the need for validation studies of meal indices.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
    Early online date5 Apr 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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