PEP 6305 Measurement in Health & Physical Education


Topic 15: Measuring Diet and Nutrition

Section 15.1


This topic has 3 sections.



n Thompson and Subar, Dietary Assessment Methodology.

n National Cancer Institute, Quick Food Scan.

n National Institutes of Health, Fruit & Vegetable Screener.



n Understand differences between methods of dietary assessments.

n Understand and mitigate issues with dietary data collection in special populations.

n Recognize potential measurement issues with regards to different dietary assessment methods.



Physical activity is just one aspect of the obesity epidemic, as diet and nutrition are also considered significant factors.

The intent of this topic is for you to understand the strengths and weaknesses commonly used assessment methods and to be able to select the best assessment tool for the situation.


Dietary record


Dietary records are typically obtained for 3 or 4 days. Seven-day records were historically used as the "gold standard" for validating other methods.


Disadvantages of a dietary record include biases both the selection and measurement of the food.


24-hour Dietary recall


The 24-hour dietary recall was designed to quantitatively assess current nutrient intake.

Disadvantages of the 24-hour recall include the inability of a single day's intake to describe the typical diet.


Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQ)


The food frequency questionnaire approach is most commonly used in groups of people to provide estimates of usual dietary intake over time (typically 6 months to 1 year).


Brief Assessments and Screeners


For some research and/or public health purposes a full-length questionnaire is not practical. Therefore, brief assessments and screening tools have been developed, usually to assess just one or two nutrients or food groups. They generally do not include portion size, but just ask about frequency. Most of the focus in brief instrument development has been on fruits and vegetables and fats, but others have been developed for protein, calcium, sugar sweetened drinks and other food intake.


Diet History


A dietary history is a structured interview method consisting of questions about habitual intake of foods from the core (e.g. meat and alternatives, cereals, fruit and vegetables, dairy and ‘extras’) food groups in the last seven days. This is followed by a ‘cross check’ to clarify information about usual intake in the past 3, 6, or 12 months, depending on the aims of the assessment.


The development of the dietary history is usually attributed to Burke (1947).

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