Protocol of the Belgian food consumption survey 2014: objectives, design and methods

Arch Public Health. 2016 May 16;74:20. doi: 10.1186/s13690-016-0131-2. eCollection 2016.


Background: Dietary patterns are one of the major determinants as far as health and burden of disease is concerned. Food consumption data are essential to evaluate and develop nutrition and food safety policies. The last national food consumption survey in Belgium took place in 2004 among the Belgian population aged 15 years and older. Since dietary habits are prone to change over time a new Belgian National Food Consumption Survey (BNFCS2014) was conducted in 2014-2015.

Methods: The BNFCS2014 is a cross-sectional study. A representative sample (n = 3200) of the Belgian population aged 3 to 64 years old was randomly selected from the National Population Register following a multistage stratified sampling procedure. Data collection was divided equally over the four seasons and days of the week in order to incorporate seasonal effects and day-to-day variation in food intake. Information on food intake was collected in adults with two non-consecutive 24-h dietary recalls (using the GloboDiet® software). In children food intake was collected with two non-consecutive one-day food diaries followed by a completion interview with GloboDiet. Additional data on socio-demographic characteristics, eating habits, lifestyle, food safety (at household level), physical activity and sedentary behaviour were collected with a face-to-face questionnaire using a computer-assisted personal interviewing technique. In the time between the two visits, participants were asked to complete a self-administered food frequency questionnaire and health questionnaire. Height, weight and waist circumference were measured. In addition, children and adolescents were asked to wear an accelerometer and keep a logbook for seven consecutive days to objectively measure physical activity and sedentary behaviour.

Conclusion: The main objective of the BNFCS2014 is to evaluate the habitual food, energy and nutrient intake in the Belgian population and to compare these with recommendations from the national dietary guidelines. A second objective is to monitor eating habits and food safety aspects of the food consumption in Belgium. The results of this dietary monitoring survey, together with the information on the level of physical activity, may underpin future nutrition, food safety and physical activity policies at national and European level.

Keywords: 24-hour recall; Dietary monitoring; Food consumption survey; Food frequency questionnaire; Food safety; Habitual intake; Physical activity.