A systematic review of the validity of dietary assessment methods in children when compared with the method of doubly labeled water

J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Oct;110(10):1501-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2010.07.008.


Measuring dietary intake in children enables the assessment of nutritional adequacy of individuals and groups and can provide information about nutrients, including energy, food, and eating habits. The aim of this review was to determine which dietary assessment method(s) provide a valid and accurate estimate of energy intake by comparison with the gold standard measure, doubly labeled water (DLW). English-language articles published between 1973 and 2009 and available from common nutrition databases were retrieved. Studies were included if the subjects were children birth to age 18 years and used the DLW technique to validate reported energy intake by any other dietary assessment method. The review identified 15 cross-sectional studies, with a variety of comparative dietary assessment methods. These included a total of 664 children, with the majority having <30 participants. The majority of dietary assessment method validation studies indicated a degree of misreporting, with only eight studies identifying this to a significant level (P<0.05) compared to DLW estimated energy intake. Under-reporting by food records varied from 19% to 41% (n=5 studies) with over-reporting most often associated with 24-hour recalls (7% to 11%, n=4), diet history (9% to 14%, n=3), and food frequency questionnaires (2% to 59%, n=2). This review suggested that the 24-hour multiple pass recall conducted over at least a 3-day period that includes weekdays and weekend days and uses parents as proxy reporters is the most accurate method to estimate total energy intake in children aged 4 to 11 years, compared to total energy expenditure measured by DLW. Weighed food records provided the best estimate for younger children aged 0.5 to 4 years, whereas the diet history provided better estimates for adolescents aged≥16 years. Further research is needed in this area to substantiate findings and improve estimates of total energy expenditure in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Water / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Deuterium
  • Diet Records
  • Diet Surveys*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Self Disclosure


  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Deuterium