The MSM program: web-based statistics package for estimating usual dietary intake using the Multiple Source Method

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul;65 Suppl 1:S87-91. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2011.92.


Background/objectives: The Multiple Source Method (MSM) is a new statistical method for estimating usual dietary intake including episodically consumed foods on the basis of two or more short-term measurements such as 24-h dietary recalls. Optional information regarding habitual use or non-use of a food can be included as a covariate in the model estimating the intake, as well as a parameter for identifying consumers and non-consumers. The objective was to implement the MSM algorithms into an easy-to-use statistical program package.

Subjects/methods: The implementation was realized as a web-based application using the Perl application framework Catalyst. As the engine for the statistical calculations, the R system was used. To allow simultaneous use of the program by different users, a multiuser system with a resource bag pattern design was implemented.

Results: We established a software program that implements the algorithms of the MSM and allows interactive usage of the method, using standard web technologies. The program is hosted on a website established at the DIFE and can be accessed at The communication between users and the program web site is encrypted, securing transmitted data against unauthorized use. Users can interactively import several data sets, define the analysis model, review and export results and graphs. The use of the program is supported by online help and a user guide.

Conclusions: The MSM website provides a program package that allows nutritional scientists to calculate usual dietary intakes by combining short-term and long-term measurements (multiple sources). It promotes simple access to the MSM to estimate usual food intake for individuals and populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Biometry / methods
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diet Records
  • Diet Surveys / methods*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Models, Statistical
  • Software*
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*