Comparison of dietary assessment methods in nutritional epidemiology: weighed records v. 24 h recalls, food-frequency questionnaires and estimated-diet records

Br J Nutr. 1994 Oct;72(4):619-43. doi: 10.1079/bjn19940064.


Women (n 160) aged 50 to 65 years were asked to weigh their food for 4 d on four occasions over the period of 1 year, using the PETRA (Portable Electronic Tape Recorded Automatic) scales. Throughout the year, they were asked to complete seven other dietary assessment methods: a simple 24 h recall, a structured 24 h recall with portion size assessments using photographs, two food-frequency questionnaires, a 7 d estimated record or open-ended food diary, a structured food-frequency (menu) record, and a structured food-frequency (menu) record with portion sizes assessed using photographs. Comparisons between the average of the 16 d weighed records and the first presentation of each method indicated that food-frequency questionnaires were not appreciably better at placing individuals in the distribution of habitual diet than 24 h recalls, due partly to inaccuracies in the estimation of frequency of food consumption. With a 7 d estimated record or open-ended food diary, however, individual values of nutrients were most closely associated with those obtained from 16 d weighed records, and there were no significant differences in average food or nutrient intakes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diet Records*
  • Dietetics / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires