Assessing nutritional quality as a ‘vital sign’ of cardiometabolic health
High overall nutritional quality (NQ) is an important component of ideal cardiovascular health, a concept introduced in 2010 by the American Heart Association. However, data on the independent contribution of overall NQ to the variation in the cardiometabolic risk (CMR) profile are limited. This observational study aimed to investigate the association between overall NQ and the CMR profile in 4785 participants (65⋅4 % of men, age 43⋅3 (sd 10⋅8) years) who underwent a cardiometabolic health evaluation, including lifestyle habits, anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, lipid profile and HbA1c concentrations. In addition, a submaximal exercise test was conducted to assess cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF). Using a standardised NQ questionnaire (twenty-five items food-based questionnaire), participants were classified into three subgroups: (1) low, (2) moderate or (3) high NQ and variance and multiple linear regression analyses were performed. Results showed that less than 15 % of participants presented a high NQ. A high NQ was associated with a healthier lifestyle habits and a more favourable CMR profile (lower values of waist circumference and cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratio, lower concentrations of non-HDL-cholesterol, TAG and HbA1c). Some of these associations were independent of age, physical activity level (PAL) and CRF. A better NQ was also associated with a lower proportion of participants presenting the hypertriacylglycerolaemic waist phenotype independently of both PAL and CRF. The present study suggests that overall NQ can be assessed with a short food-based questionnaire and should be considered in clinical practice as a new ‘vital sign’ associated with other health behaviours and cardiometabolic health.