Assess two validity evidences of the diet quality scale (ESQUADA) for the selection of items with better discrimination of the Brazilians' diet quality and propose a description in score levels.
Brazilian adolescents and adults residing in the country (n = 2,059) answered an online questionnaire with 52 items, shared on social networks and email lists between March and April 2018. Statistical tests were applied to analyze the validity and reliability of the instrument's evidence. Factor analysis was applied to study the dimensionality of the questionnaire items. Item response theory was applied to identify the discrimination and location of items on the continuum, construct the scale and assess the differential item functioning in terms of sex and age.
Among the 52 items of the questionnaire, 25 had greater measurement accuracy, with adequate adjustment and reliability. The item on the habit of eating ultra-processed foods at home showed the best discrimination of diet quality. No item showed differential functioning regarding sex and age. In the construction of the ESQUADA, five diet quality levels were identified: very poor, poor, good, very good and excellent. It was observed that while breakfast cereals and/or cereal bars are more frequently consumed by individuals with "very poor" diet quality; nuts and/or walnuts are most often consumed by those individuals with "excellent" diet quality.
The ESQUADA consists of 25 precise items with no differential functioning to assess the quality of Brazilians' diet. The construction of the ESQUADA made it possible to recognize food consumption and dietary practices characteristic of each level of diet quality.