Reliability of a food menu to measure energy and macronutrient intake in adolescents

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan;70(1):104-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.116. Epub 2015 Jul 22.


Background/objectives: The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability of a food menu to measure energy and macronutrient intake within the laboratory and under real-life conditions in adolescents.

Subjects/methods: A total of 12 boys and 8 girls (age 14.3 (s.d. 2.4) years, body mass index (BMI) 20.8 (s.d. 4.0) kg/m(2)) completed two identical in-laboratory sessions (ILS) and two out-of-laboratory sessions (OLS). During the ILS, participants had ad libitum access to a variety of foods (74 items in total), which they chose from a menu every hour, for 5 h (0800-1300 h). For the OLS (1300 h until bedtime), the foods were chosen from the same menu at 1300 h and packed into containers to bring home with them.

Results: Test-retest analysis of energy and macronutrient intake revealed no significant differences (ILS and OLS). Intra-class correlations ranged between 0.69 and 0.83 (ILS) and between 0.48 and 0.73 (OLS) for energy and macronutrient intake (all P<0.01). Within-subject coefficients of variation ranged between 12.9% and 23.5% for the ILS and between 24.0% and 37.7% for the OLS. Bland-Altman plots showed acceptable agreement. Finally, the food menu was well appreciated by the participants with a 75% appreciation rate on a visual analog scale.

Conclusions: This food menu provides a reasonably reliable measure of energy and macronutrient intake in adolescents, irrespective of sex and BMI, especially inside the laboratory setting. Despite the difficulties in capturing a stable measure of energy intake in research, this tool could be a useful addition to the methods currently used to assess ad libitum food intake in youth.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Food Labeling / methods*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins