Best Practices for Conducting and Interpreting Studies to Validate Self-Report Dietary Assessment Methods

J Acad Nutr Diet. 2019 Nov;119(11):1801-1816. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2019.06.010. Epub 2019 Sep 11.


Careful consideration of the validity and reliability of methods intended to assess dietary intake is central to the robustness of nutrition research. A dietary assessment method with high validity is capable of providing useful measurement for a given purpose and context. More specifically, a method with high validity is well grounded in theory; its performance is consistent with that theory; and it is precise, dependable, and accurate within specified performance standards. Assessing the extent to which dietary assessment methods possess these characteristics can be difficult due to the complexity of dietary intake, as well as difficulties capturing true intake. We identified challenges and best practices related to the validation of self-report dietary assessment methods. The term validation is used to encompass various dimensions that must be assessed and considered to determine whether a given method is suitable for a specific purpose. Evidence on the varied concepts of validity and reliability should be interpreted in combination to inform judgments about the suitability of a method for a specified purpose. Self-report methods are the focus because they are used in most studies seeking to measure dietary intake. Biomarkers are important reference measures to validate self-report methods and are also discussed. A checklist is proposed to contribute to strengthening the literature on the validation of dietary assessment methods and ultimately, the nutrition literature more broadly.

Keywords: Dietary assessment; Psychometric; Reliability; Validation; Validity.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutrition Assessment*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires