Dietary assessment instruments for preschool children: reliability of parental responses to the 24-hour recall and a food frequency questionnaire

J Am Diet Assoc. 1990 Jun;90(6):814-20.


Nutrient intakes of preschool-age children were assessed with a 24-hour dietary recall and a 3-month food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Parents of 55 preschoolers (mean age = 4.25 +/- 0.59 years) completed the recall and FFQ on two occasions 1 week apart. The recalls and FFQs were analyzed for energy, cholesterol, protein, total carbohydrate, calcium, sodium, potassium, and saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats; each nutrient was expressed as raw value, value per kg body weight, and value per 1,000 kcal. Test-retest reliability estimates for the 24-hour recall indicated significant variability in reported total energy intake, but stable reports of intake were observed for one or all units of expression for polyunsaturated fats, cholesterol, protein, total carbohydrate, calcium, and potassium. The FFQ showed significant positive test-retest reliability estimates for all nutrients for all units of expression. Comparison of the recall and FFQ data showed similar percentages of intakes of energy from fat, carbohydrate, and protein and significant correlations for reported intakes of cholesterol, protein, calcium, and potassium. Comparison of the recall and FFQ data with recall data from a comparable cohort showed lower reported intakes for our sample, with the exception of protein, carbohydrate, calcium, and potassium. If validation studies are successful, the FFQ may be useful in epidemiological studies of preschoolers' intakes over extended periods. The recall may prove to be a useful tool in the assessment of day-to-day variations in macronutrient intakes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholesterol, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Eating*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Systems
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Potassium / administration & dosage
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sodium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Software
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Cholesterol, Dietary
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Sodium, Dietary
  • Potassium