Population surveys have rarely identified dietary patterns associated with excess energy intake in relation to risk of obesity. This study uses self-reported food intake data from the validated Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Healthy Diet Score survey to examine whether apparent compliance with dietary guidelines varies by weight status. The sample of 185,951 Australian adults were majority female (71.8%), with 30.2%, 35.3% and 31.0% aged between 18–30, 31–50 and 51–70 years respectively. Using multinomial regression, in the adjusted model controlling for gender and age, individuals in the lowest quintile of diet quality were almost three times more likely to be obese than those in the highest quintile (OR 2.99, CI: 2.88:3.11; p < 0.001). The differential components of diet quality between normal and obese adults were fruit (difference in compliance score 12.9 points out of a possible 100, CI: 12.3:13.5; p < 0.001), discretionary foods (8.7 points, CI: 8.1:9.2; p < 0.001), and healthy fats (7.7 points, CI: 7.2:8.1; p < 0.001). Discretionary foods was the lowest scoring component across all gender and weight status groups, and are an important intervention target to improve diet quality. This study contributes to the evidence that diet quality is associated with health outcomes, including weight status, and will be useful in framing recommendations for obesity prevention and management.
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- Diet quality
- Dietary guidelines
- Discretionary choices