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      Meal planning is associated with food variety, diet quality and body weight status in a large sample of French adults


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          Meal planning could be a potential tool to offset time scarcity and therefore encourage home meal preparation, which has been linked with an improved diet quality. However, to date, meal planning has received little attention in the scientific literature. The aim of our cross-sectional study was to investigate the association between meal planning and diet quality, including adherence to nutritional guidelines and food variety, as well as weight status.


          Meal planning, i.e. planning ahead the foods that will be eaten for the next few days, was assessed in 40,554 participants of the web-based observational NutriNet-Santé study. Dietary measurements included intakes of energy, nutrients, food groups, and adherence to the French nutritional guidelines (mPNNS-GS) estimated through repeated 24-h dietary records. A food variety score was also calculated using Food Frequency Questionnaire. Weight and height were self-reported. Association between meal planning and dietary intakes were assessed using ANCOVAs, while associations with quartiles of mPNNS-GS scores, quartiles of food variety score and weight status categories (overweight, obesity) were evaluated using logistic regression models.


          A total of 57% of the participants declared to plan meals at least occasionally. Meal planners were more likely to have a higher mPNNS-GS (OR quartile 4 vs. 1 = 1.13, 95% CI: [1.07–1.20]), higher overall food variety (OR quartile 4 vs. 1 = 1.25, 95% CI: [1.18–1.32]). In women, meal planning was associated with lower odds of being overweight (OR = 0.92 [0.87–0.98]) and obese (OR = 0.79 [0.73–0.86]). In men, the association was significant for obesity only (OR = 0.81 [0.69–0.94]).


          Meal planning was associated with a healthier diet and less obesity. Although no causality can be inferred from the reported associations, these data suggest that meal planning could potentially be relevant for obesity prevention.

          Electronic supplementary material

          The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12966-017-0461-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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          Most cited references 41

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          Critical evaluation of energy intake using the Goldberg cut-off for energy intake:basal metabolic rate. A practical guide to its calculation, use and limitations.

           Joel A Black (2000)
          To re-state the principles underlying the Goldberg cut-off for identifying under-reporters of energy intake, re-examine the physiological principles and update the values to be substituted into the equation for calculating the cut-off, and to examine its use and limitations. New values are suggested for each element of the Goldberg equation. The physical activity level (PAL) for comparison with energy intake:basal metabolic rate (EI:BMR) should be selected to reflect the population under study; the PAL value of 1.55 x BMR is not necessarily the value of choice. The suggested value for average within-subject variation in energy intake is 23% (unchanged), but other sources of variation are increased in the light of new data. For within-subject variation in measured and estimated BMR, 4% and 8.5% respectively are suggested (previously 2.5% and 8%), and for total between-subject variation in PAL, the suggested value is 15% (previously 12.5%). The effect of these changes is to widen the confidence limits and reduce the sensitivity of the cut-off. The Goldberg cut-off can be used to evaluate the mean population bias in reported energy intake, but information on the activity or lifestyle of the population is needed to choose a suitable PAL energy requirement for comparison. Sensitivity for identifying under-reporters at the individual level is limited. In epidemiological studies information on home, leisure and occupational activity is essential in order to assign subjects to low, medium or high PAL levels before calculating the cut-offs. In small studies, it is desirable to measure energy expenditure, or to calculate individual energy requirements, and to compare energy intake directly with energy expenditure.
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            The Nutrinet-Santé Study: a web-based prospective study on the relationship between nutrition and health and determinants of dietary patterns and nutritional status

            Background Nutrition-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer are of multiple origin, and may be due to genetic, biologic, behavioural and environmental factors. In order to detangle the specific role of nutritional factors, very large population sample cohort studies comprising precisely measured dietary intake and all necessary information for accurately assessing potential confounding factors are needed. Widespread use of internet is an opportunity to gradually collect huge amounts of data from a large sample of volunteers that can be automatically verified and processed. The objectives of the NutriNet-Santé study are: 1) to investigate the relationship between nutrition (nutrients, foods, dietary patterns, physical activity), mortality and health outcomes; and 2) to examine the determinants of dietary patterns and nutritional status (sociological, economic, cultural, biological, cognitive, perceptions, preferences, etc.), using a web-based approach. Methods/design Our web-based prospective cohort study is being conducted for a scheduled follow-up of 10 years. Using a dedicated web site, recruitment will be carried out for 5 years so as to register 500 000 volunteers aged ≥ 18 years among whom 60% are expected to be included (having complete baseline data) and followed-up for at least 5 years for 240 000 participants. Questionnaires administered via internet at baseline and each year thereafter will assess socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics, anthropometry, health status, physical activity and diet. Surveillance of health events will be implemented via questionnaires on hospitalisation and use of medication, and linkage with a national database on vital statistics. Biochemical samples and clinical examination will be collected in a subsample of volunteers. Discussion Self-administered data collection using internet as a complement to collection of biological data will enable identifying nutrition-related risks and protective factors, thereby more clearly elucidating determinants of nutritional status and their interactions. These are necessary steps for further refining nutritional recommendations aimed at improving the health status of populations.
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              Operationalizing dietary diversity: a review of measurement issues and research priorities.

               Marie Ruel (2003)
              Dietary diversity (DD) is universally recognized as a key component of healthy diets. There is still, however, a lack of consensus on how to measure and operationalize DD. This article reviews published literature on DD, with a focus on the conceptual and operational issues related to its measurement in developing countries. Findings from studies of the association between DD and individual nutrient adequacy, child growth and/or household socioeconomic factors are summarized. DD is usually measured using a simple count of foods or food groups over a given reference period, but a number of different groupings, classification systems and reference periods have been used. This limits comparability and generalizability of findings. The few studies that have validated DD against nutrient adequacy in developing countries confirm the well-documented positive association observed in developed countries. A consistent positive association between dietary diversity and child growth is also found in a number of countries. Evidence from a multicountry analysis suggests that household-level DD diversity is strongly associated with household per capita income and energy availability, suggesting that DD could be a useful indicator of food security. The nutritional contribution of animal foods to nutrient adequacy is indisputable, but the independent role of animal foods relative to overall dietary quality for child growth and nutrition remains poorly understood. DD is clearly a promising measurement tool, but additional research is required to improve and harmonize measurement approaches and indicators. Validation studies are also needed to test the usefulness of DD indicators for various purposes and in different contexts.

                Author and article information

                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central (London )
                2 February 2017
                2 February 2017
                : 14
                [1 ]ISNI 0000000121496883, GRID grid.11318.3a, Equipe de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, Centre de Recherche en Epidémiologie et Statistiques, , Université Paris 13, ; Inserm (U1153), Inra (U1125), Cnam, COMUE Sorbonne Paris Cité, Bobigny, France
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 1955 3500, GRID grid.5805.8, Département de médecine générale, faculté de médecine Pierre et Marie Curie, , UPMC Université Paris 6, ; 27, rue de Chaligny, 75012 Paris, France
                [3 ]ISNI 0000 0000 8715 2621, GRID grid.413780.9, Département de Santé Publique, , Hôpital Avicenne, ; Bobigny Cedex, France
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                © The Author(s) 2017

                Nutrition & Dietetics

                meal planning, diet quality, food variety, overweight, cross-sectional study


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