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To test a socioeconomic hypothesis on three dietary patterns and to describe the relation between three commonly used methods to determine dietary patterns, namely Healthy Eating Index, Mediterranean Diet Score and principal component analysis.Cross-sectional design in 1852 military men. Using mailed questionnaires, the food consumption frequency was recorded.The correlation coefficients between the three dietary patterns varied between 0.43 and 0.62. The highest correlation was found between Healthy Eating Index and Healthy Dietary Pattern (principal components analysis). Cohen's kappa coefficient of agreement varied between 0.10 and 0.20. After age-adjustment, education and income remained associated with the most healthy dietary pattern. Even when both socioeconomic indicators were used together in one model, higher income and education were associated with higher scores for Healthy Eating Index, Mediterranean Diet Score and Healthy Dietary Pattern. The least healthy quintiles of dietary pattern as measured by the three methods were associated with a clustering of unhealthy behaviors, that is, smoking, low physical activity, highest intake of total fat and saturated fatty acids, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables.The three dietary patterns used indicated that the most healthy patterns were associated with a higher socioeconomic position, while lower patterns were associated with several unhealthy behaviors.