European Journal of Nutrition

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 1179–1189 | Cite as

Associations of dietary diversity scores and micronutrient status in adolescent Mozambican girls

  • Liisa KorkaloEmail author
  • Maijaliisa Erkkola
  • Arja E. Heinonen
  • Riitta Freese
  • Kerry Selvester
  • Marja Mutanen
Original Contribution



In low-income settings, dietary diversity scores (DDSs) often predict the micronutrient adequacy of diets, but little is known about whether they predict levels of biochemical indicators of micronutrient status.


In 2010, we studied two samples of non-pregnant 14- to 19-year-old girls in central Mozambique, the first in January–February (‘hunger season’; n = 227) and the second in May–June (harvest season; n = 223). In this paper, we examined whether a low Women’s Dietary Diversity Score (WDDS) predicts a low concentration of haemoglobin, serum ferritin, zinc, and folate, and plasma retinol in adolescent Mozambican girls. We constructed three scores: WDDS based on 24-h recalls, WDDS15g based on 24-h recall and employing a 15 g limit, and 7dWDDS based on 7-day food frequency questionnaires. Logistic regression models, stratified by season, were used to estimate the odds of having a low concentration of a status indicator (≤25th percentile of the season-specific distribution or cut-off from the literature) in those with a low score compared to those with a higher score.


In January–February, after adjusting for confounders, a low (≤3) WDDS and a low (≤5) 7dWDDS were each associated with higher odds of having low serum zinc compared to having a higher score, regardless of which of the two types of cut-offs for serum zinc was used. These associations were not present in May–June.


Our data from Mozambique suggest that dietary diversity is associated with serum zinc, but this association seems to be limited to the hunger season.


Dietary diversity score Micronutrient Nutritional status Adolescent girl Mozambique Sub-Saharan Africa 



We are deeply grateful for all those who helped to make the ZANE Study possible, especially the field workers and study participants. This research was supported by the Academy of Finland, Embassy of Finland in Maputo, the Finnish Graduate School on Applied Bioscience: Bioengineering, Food and Nutrition, Environment, the Future Development Fund of the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Concordia Fund, and the Foundation for Women in Research, Finland.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

394_2016_1167_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (6.1 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 6275 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liisa Korkalo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maijaliisa Erkkola
    • 1
  • Arja E. Heinonen
    • 1
  • Riitta Freese
    • 1
  • Kerry Selvester
    • 2
  • Marja Mutanen
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Nutrition, Department of Food and Environmental SciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Food Security and Nutrition Association (ANSA)MaputoMozambique

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