Objective: To evaluate the relationship between diet quality score, as measured by the Australian Recommended Food Score (ARFS) and six-year weight gain in middle-aged Australian women. Methods: Participants were a sub-sample of women from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) who were followed up from 2001 to 2007 (n= 7,155, aged 48 to 56 years). The ARFS was derived from responses to a sub-set of questions from a food frequency questionnaire, with possible scores ranging from 0 to 74 (maximum). Absolute weight gain was calculated from the difference in self-reported weight between 2001 and 2007. Linear regression was used to test the relationship between diet score and weight change. Results: On average, women gained weight during follow-up (1.6 ± 6.2 kg) and had a mean baseline ARFS of 32.6 (SD 8.7) which was not optimal. There was no association between ARFS and weight change during follow-up (β= 0.016; p=0.08) in the fully adjusted model that included total energy intake, education, area of residence, baseline weight, physical activity, smoking and menopause status. Conclusions: Weight gain and low ARFS were common. However, diet quality as measured by the ARFS did not predict six-year weight gain. Implications: This lack of association may be due to limitations related to AFRS, or may be a false negative finding. Further research is warranted to evaluate the impact of promoting optimal diet quality on weight gain prospectively.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health Vol. 37, Issue 4, p. 322-328