Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size View as PDF Print

Conclusion Grading Chart (2010 DGAC)

The 2010 Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee approved the use of the following predefined criteria to grade the strength of the evidence supporting each conclusion statement. These criteria guided members to carefully evaluate the:

  •  quality of studies (both strength of design and execution),
  •  quantity of studies and subjects,
  •  consistency of findings across studies,
  •  the magnitude of effect,
  •  generalizability of findings

reported in the body of literature supporting each conclusion.  The chart below was used by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and defines the criteria used to determine each grade.

DGAC Conclusion Grading Chart used to evaluate the strength of the body of evidence supporting conclusion statements







Expert Opinion Only

Grade Not Assignable


·   Scientific rigor and validity

·   Study  design and execution


Studies of strong design

Free from design flaws, bias, and execution problems


Studies of strong design with minor methodological concerns

OR only studies of weaker study design for question


Studies of weak design for answering the question OR inconclusive findings due to design flaws, bias, or execution problems 

No studies available


Conclusion based on usual practice, expert consensus, clinical experience, opinion, or extrapolation from basic research

No evidence that pertains to question being addressed



·   Consistency of findings across studies

Findings generally consistent in direction and size of effect or degree of association, and statistical significance with minor very exceptions

Inconsistency among results of studies with strong design,

OR consistency with minor exceptions across studies of weaker design

Unexplained inconsistency among results from different studies,

OR single study unconfirmed by other studies

Conclusion supported solely by statements of informed nutrition or medical commentators



·   Number of studies

·   Number of study participants


One large study with a diverse population or several good quality studies

Large number of subjects studied

Studies with negative results have sufficiently large sample size for adequate statistical power

Several studies by independent investigators

Doubts about adequacy of sample size to avoid Type I and Type II error

Limited number of studies

Low number of subjects studied and/or inadequate sample size within studies

Unsubstantiated by published research studies

Relevant studies have not been done


·   Importance of studied outcomes

·   Magnitude of effect


Studied outcome relates directly to the question

Size of effect is clinically meaningful

Significant (statistical) difference is large

Some doubt about the statistical or clinical significance of the effect

Studied outcome is an intermediate outcome or surrogate for the true outcome of interest

OR size of effect is small or lacks statistical and/or clinical significance

Objective data unavailable

Indicates area for future research



·   Generalizability to population of interest

Studied population, intervention and outcomes are free from serious doubts about generalizability

Minor doubts about generalizability

Serious doubts about generalizability due to

narrow or different study population, intervention or outcomes studied

Generalizability limited to scope of experience


Criteria adapted from the American Dietetic Association Evidence Analysis Library® and based upon: Greer N, Mosser G, Logan G,  Wagstrom Halaas G. A practical approach to evidence grading. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement. 2000;26:700-712. Explanation of Grades and Grading Chart