Purpose: Poor diet quality is an important determinant of obesity and chronic disease risk. A better understanding of social, economic and geographic factors associated with diet quality can inform public health and policy efforts for advancing health equity. Methods: This cross-sectional analysis of 155,331 adult men and women in the American Cancer Society (ACS) Cancer Prevention Study-3 examined race/ethnicity, socioeconomic (individual-level education and income), and geographic (metropolitan to rural dwelling, residence in food desert) predictors of poor diet quality, mutually adjusted using multivariable logistic regression models. A diet score reflecting concordance with the 2020 ACS dietary recommendations for cancer prevention based on intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and highly processed foods was calculated from responses to a validated food frequency questionnaire, with scores ranging from 0 (worst) to 12 (best) diet quality, and scores 0-3 representing poor diet quality. Results: All socioeconomic and geographic characteristics assessed were statistically significant, independent predictors of poor diet quality. Compared to White participants, Black participants had a 16% higher likelihood of poor diet quality, while Hispanic/Latino and Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander participants had 16% and 33% lower risk of poor diet quality, respectively. Higher income and education were linearly associated with better diet quality among White participants, but not among other racial/ethnic groups. Even after controlling for other characteristics, non-metropolitan residence was associated with a 61% higher risk of poor diet quality. Additionally, residence in a food desert was associated with a 17% higher risk. All diet score components contributed to disparities observed, particularly red and processed meat and SSBs. Conclusions: Race/ethnicity, socioeconomic and geographic factors independently predicted risk of poor diet quality among a large, diverse adult U.S. population. These findings contribute information to more effectively target behavioral interventions, programs, and policies to improve diet quality for populations at highest risk.

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