Selection of methodology to assess food intake

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 May:56 Suppl 2:S25-32. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601426.


Objective: The aim of the EFCOSUM project was to develop a method to estimate both acute and usual consumption levels in European countries and for the sake of comparison, a common basic method for dietary assessment was needed. The method should allow a reliable comparison of the intake of relevant dietary indicators among large population groups.

Design and results: The selection of methodology was based on the available literature and the expertise of the participants. To guide the selection process, decision trees containing all relevant moments of choice, alternatives and criteria for the selection of a method for food consumption measurement were developed. Considering that insight into average food and nutrient intake and their distribution in well-defined groups of individuals was important, it was decided that for the monitoring of the selected dietary indicators food consumption data should be collected at an individual level. Different methods were reviewed (24 h recall, dietary record, food frequency questionnaire, dietary history method).

Conclusions: Since the 24 h recall method is applicable in large European populations of different ethnicity, has a relatively low respondent and interviewer burden, is open-ended and is cost-effective, this method can be considered as the best method for EFCOSUM to get population mean intakes and distributions for subjects aged 10 y and over in different European countries. Usual intake should be estimated by statistical modelling techniques, using two non-consecutive 24 h recalls and a food list to assess the proportion non-users for infrequently consumed foods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Data Collection / standards*
  • Decision Making
  • Diet Records
  • Diet Surveys*
  • European Union
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires