Background: Diet plays a crucial role in the regulation of chronic inflammation. Many foods and nutrients affect the body’s inflammatory balance, and low-grade inflammation is related to chronic disease. The sparse evidence available in adult populations indicates that diet quality is linked to the dietary inflammatory potential; however, this association has not been established in children and young people.
Design: Data were obtained from a representative national sample of 2889 children and young people in Spain, aged 6 to 24 years. The dietary inflammatory potential was measured by the dietary inflammatory index (DII) and diet quality by 3 conceptually different measures, namely the KIDMED index, energy density, and total dietary antioxidants capacity.
Results: The mean DII was 1.25±1.39 units; values ranged from -4.27 to 4.16. The inflammatory potential of the diet was greater at younger ages and in girls/young women. Scoring for the KIDMED index and the total dietary antioxidant capacity significantly decreased (p<0.001 and p=0.017, respectively) across quintiles of the DII, whereas the opposite was true for energy density (p<0.001). The effect size of these associations was strongest for energy density, followed by the KIDMED index and total dietary antioxidant capacity. The strength of agreement between the dietary quality measures was poor (Cohen’s κ < 0.05).
Conclusion: A healthy diet characterized by high adherence to the Mediterranean diet, high total dietary antioxidant capacity, or low energy density was linked to greater anti-inflammatory potential of the diet, as measured by the DII.