Comparative validation of the Block, Willett, and National Cancer Institute food frequency questionnaires : the Eating at America's Table Study

Am J Epidemiol. 2001 Dec 15;154(12):1089-99. doi: 10.1093/aje/154.12.1089.


Researchers at the National Cancer Institute developed a new cognitively based food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), the Diet History Questionnaire (DHQ). The Eating at America's Table Study sought to validate and compare the DHQ with the Block and Willett FFQs. Of 1,640 men and women recruited to participate from a nationally representative sample in 1997, 1,301 completed four telephone 24-hour recalls, one in each season. Participants were randomized to receive either a DHQ and Block FFQ or a DHQ and Willett FFQ. With a standard measurement error model, correlations for energy between estimated truth and the DHQ, Block FFQ, and Willett FFQ, respectively, were 0.48, 0.45, and 0.18 for women and 0.49, 0.45, and 0.21 for men. For 26 nutrients, correlations and attenuation coefficients were somewhat higher for the DHQ versus the Block FFQ, and both were better than the Willett FFQ in models unadjusted for energy. Energy adjustment increased correlations and attenuation coefficients for the Willett FFQ dramatically and for the DHQ and Block FFQ instruments modestly. The DHQ performed best overall. These data show that the DHQ and the Block FFQ are better at estimating absolute intakes than is the Willett FFQ but that, after energy adjustment, all three are more comparable for purposes of assessing diet-disease risk.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*