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Food and health

Frequency and variety of usual intakes of healthy foods, fruit, and vegetables predicts lower 6-year weight gain in young women



We previously demonstrated that fruit and vegetable consumption, was associated with less weight gain over 6 years in young women for all body mass index (BMI) categories. This study evaluated the relationship between diet quality and 6-year weight change, in Australian women initially in the healthy weight range (≥18.5 BMI <25 kg/m2) at baseline.


A total of 4083 young women (27–31 years) in the healthy weight range (≥18.5 BMI <25 kg/m2) enroled in the Australian Longitudinal study on Women’s Health (ALSWH) were analysed. Diet quality was measured by the Australian Recommended Food Score (ARFS) and the Fruit and Vegetable Index (FAVI) using dietary data derived from a validated food frequency questionnaire. Weight change was calculated as the difference between baseline and 6-year follow-up weight (kg). Multiple linear regression models were used to analyse the association between baseline ARFS and FAVI and 6-year weight change.


At baseline, mean diet quality was low for both indices [ARFS (maximum 72) = 29.9 and FAVI (maximum 333) = 94.2] and women gained 3.7 kg of weight during 6 years of follow-up. Regression modelling revealed that every one point increase over 6 years in either the ARFS or FAVI score was associated with statistically significantly less weight gain over 6 years, although the amount was small (33 and 12 g, respectively).


Higher diet quality predicts lower prospective weight gain in young women however, further research is needed over a longer follow-up period and in diverse population groups.

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The analysis presented was conducted as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, the University of Newcastle and the University of Queensland. We are grateful to the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA) and to the women who provided the survey data. We also thank Graham Giles and Alison Hidge of the Cancer Epidemiology Centre of The Cancer Council Victoria for permission to use the Dietary Questionnaire for Epidemiological Studies (version 2), Melbourne, VIC Australia; The Cancer Council Victoria, 1996.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. HMA was funded by a PhD scholarship from the King Abdulaziz University and the Ministry of Higher Education, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the University of Newcastle supported the research. CEC is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Research Fellowship, and the Gladys M Brawn Senior Research Fellowship from the Faculty of Health and Medicine, the University of Newcastle, Australia.

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Contribution of each author; HMA, AP, DS, and CEC conceptualised the research project; all authors were involved in the design of the study; HMA conducted the research with statistical support from DS; HMA conducted the analysis and HMA, RMT drafted the paper; all authors edited and provided feedback and approved the final paper. The content in this paper is the original work of all authors involved. The paper is not under consideration nor published elsewhere in the same or in a similar form. All authors have read and approved the paper.

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Correspondence to Clare E. Collins.

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Aljadani, H.M., Patterson, A., Sibbritt, D. et al. Frequency and variety of usual intakes of healthy foods, fruit, and vegetables predicts lower 6-year weight gain in young women. Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 945–952 (2020).

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