Monitoring of dietary quality in outpatients by qualitative meal classification method

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The aim of this study was to evaluate whether qualitative meal-classification used as a dietary evaluation tool reflects eating frequency and key nutrients in the diet, and whether it could be used to monitor the dietary quality in elderly outpatients. The qualitative meal-classification tool used was based on eight food categories combined into four types of meals: Complete, Incomplete, Less Balanced and Vegetarian Meals, and three types of snacks: High-, Mixed- and Low-Quality Snacks.


Dietary intake was assessed during 7 consecutive days by use of an estimated food record in nine elderly women with leg ulcers. Mean 7-day dietary intakes of energy, macronutrients, beta-carotene, retinol, vitamin E, ascorbic acid, calcium, iron, zinc and dietary fibre were calculated. Each eating event was classified in accordance with the food-based classification method. The frequency of the four types of meals and three types of snacks, their energy content and nutrients, and their contribution to total intake were subsequently analysed.


Meals were associated with a higher energy, vitamin and mineral content than were snacks. Complete Meals were the major source for beta-carotene and ascorbic acid. Intakes from Low-Quality Snacks were relatively high in energy, fat and sucrose.


The qualitative meal-classification tool was found to be simple to use and useful for reflecting meal order and the nutritional roles of different types of meals and snacks in the diet. This method is recommended for dietary monitoring.

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