Macro and micro nutrient deficiencies are public health concerns in most developing countries including Sri Lanka, partly due to monotonous, cereal-based diet that lacks diversity. The objective of the study was to assess validity of food variety score (FVS), dietary diversity score (DDS) and dietary serving score (DSS) as indicators of nutrient adequacy of rural elderly people in Sri Lanka.
A sample of 200 apparently healthy elderly people >60y of age were studied. A single 24 h recall was performed to compute dietary diversity indicators. Pearson’s correlation was used to assess the utility of FVS, DDS and DSS as indicators of nutrient adequacy. Sensitivity (Se) and specificity (Spe) analysis were done to determine the most appropriate cut-off points for using FVS and DDS to categorize elderly people with adequate nutrient intake. The average (standard deviation) of the food variety score, dietary diversity score and dietary serving score was 8.4 (2), 4.4 (0.9) and 11.4 (2.5), respectively. Mean adequacy ratio (MAR) of 12 nutrients was 0.39 (39%). Pearson’s correlation coefficients between MAR and FVS was 0.45 (P < 0.01), for DDS it was 0.48 ( P < 0.01) and for DSS it was 0.58 ( P < 0.01). When maximizing sensitivity and specificity, the best cut-off point for achieving 50% of MAR was about 9 and 4.5 for FVS and DDS, respectively.
In conclusion, FVS, DDS and DSS were useful proxy indicators of nutrient adequacy of rural elderly people in Sri Lanka. Indeed, the performance of the indicators is improved when considering the quantities of food consumed.