Application of a New Carbohydrate Food Quality Scoring System: An Expert Panel Report

Kevin B. Comerford, Adam Drewnowski, Yanni Papanikolaou, Julie Miller Jones, Joanne Slavin, Siddhartha S. Angadi, Judith Rodriguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbohydrate foods (≥40% energy from carbohydrates) are the main source of energy in the US diet. In contrast to national-level dietary guidance, many regularly consumed carbohydrate foods are low in fiber and whole grains but high in added sugar, sodium, and/or saturated fat. Given the important contribution of higher-quality carbohydrate foods to affordable healthy diets, new metrics are needed to convey the concept of carbohydrate quality to policymakers, food industry stakeholders, health professionals, and consumers. The recently developed Carbohydrate Food Quality Scoring System is well aligned with multiple key healthy messages on nutrients of public health concern from the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Two models are described in a previously published paper: one for all non-grain carbohydrate-rich foods (e.g., fruits, vegetables, legumes) known as the Carbohydrate Food Quality Score-4 (CFQS-4), and one for grain foods only known as the Carbohydrate Food Quality Score-5 (CFQS-5). These CFQS models provide a new tool that can guide policy, programs, and people towards improved carbohydrate food choices. Specifically, the CFQS models represent a way to unify and reconcile diverse ways to describe different types of carbohydrate-rich foods (e.g., refined vs. whole, starchy vs. non-starchy, dark green vs. red/orange) and make for more useful and informative messaging that better aligns with a food’s nutritional and/or health contributions. The present paper’s aims are to show that the CFQS models can inform future dietary guidelines and help support carbohydrate food recommendations with other health messages aimed at promoting foods that are nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, and low in added sugar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1288
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Quality Carbohydrate Coalition (QCC), which is funded by Potatoes USA. The QCC was not involved in the expert panel discussions, manuscript preparation, or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • carbohydrate quality
  • culturally inclusive dietary patterns
  • dietary guidelines for Americans
  • fiber
  • free sugars
  • potassium
  • sodium
  • Thrifty Food Plan
  • whole grain

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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