Validity of a Dietary Questionnaire Assessed by Comparison With Multiple Weighed Dietary Records or 24-Hour Recalls

Am J Epidemiol. 2017 Apr 1;185(7):570-584. doi: 10.1093/aje/kww104.


The authors evaluated the validity of a 152-item semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire (SFFQ) by comparing it with two 7-day dietary records (7DDRs) or up to 4 automated self-administered 24-hour recalls (ASA24s) over a 1-year period in the women's Lifestyle Validation Study (2010-2012), conducted among subgroups of the Nurses' Health Studies. Intakes of energy and 44 nutrients were assessed using the 3 methods among 632 US women. Compared with the 7DDRs, SFFQ responses tended to underestimate sodium intake but overestimate intakes of energy, macronutrients, and several nutrients in fruits and vegetables, such as carotenoids. Spearman correlation coefficients between energy-adjusted intakes from 7DDRs and the SFFQ completed at the end of the data-collection period ranged from 0.36 for lauric acid to 0.77 for alcohol (mean r = 0.53). Correlations of the end-period SFFQ were weaker when ASA24s were used as the comparison method (mean r = 0.43). After adjustment for within-person variation in the comparison method, the correlations of the final SFFQ were similar with 7DDRs (mean r = 0.63) and ASA24s (mean r = 0.62). These data indicate that this SFFQ provided reasonably valid estimates for intakes of a wide variety of dietary variables and that use of multiple 24-hour recalls or 7DDRs as a comparison method provided similar conclusions if day-to-day variation was taken into account.

Keywords: 7-day dietary records; automated self-administered 24-hour recall; nutrient validation; reproducibility; semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Diet / statistics & numerical data
  • Diet Surveys / methods*
  • Diet Surveys / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards
  • United States