Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Validity and relative validity of a novel digital approach for 24-h dietary recall in athletes

Lindsay B Baker1*, Lisa E Heaton1, Kimberly W Stein1, Ryan P Nuccio1 and Asker E Jeukendrup12

Author Affiliations

1 Gatorade Sports Science Institute, 617 W. Main St., Barrington, IL 60010, USA

2 School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK

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Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:41  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-41

Published: 30 April 2014



We developed a digital dietary analysis tool for athletes (DATA) using a modified 24-h recall method and an integrated, customized nutrient database. The purpose of this study was to assess DATA’s validity and relative validity by measuring its agreement with registered dietitians’ (RDs) direct observations (OBSERVATION) and 24-h dietary recall interviews using the USDA 5-step multiple-pass method (INTERVIEW), respectively.


Fifty-six athletes (14–20 y) completed DATA and INTERVIEW in randomized counter-balanced order. OBSERVATION (n = 26) consisted of RDs recording participants’ food/drink intake in a 24-h period and were completed the day prior to DATA and INTERVIEW. Agreement among methods was estimated using a repeated measures t-test and Bland-Altman analysis.


The paired differences (with 95% confidence intervals) between DATA and OBSERVATION were not significant for carbohydrate (10.1%, -1.2–22.7%) and protein (14.1%, -3.2–34.5%) but was significant for energy (14.4%, 1.2–29.3%). There were no differences between DATA and INTERVIEW for energy (-1.1%, -9.1–7.7%), carbohydrate (0.2%, -7.1–8.0%) or protein (-2.7%, -11.3–6.7%). Bland-Altman analysis indicated significant positive correlations between absolute values of the differences and the means for OBSERVATION vs. DATA (r = 0.40 and r = 0.47 for energy and carbohydrate, respectively) and INTERVIEW vs. DATA (r = 0.52, r = 0.29, and r = 0.61 for energy, carbohydrate, and protein, respectively). There were also wide 95% limits of agreement (LOA) for most method comparisons. The mean bias ratio (with 95% LOA) for OBSERVATION vs. DATA was 0.874 (0.551-1.385) for energy, 0.906 (0.522-1.575) for carbohydrate, and 0.895(0.395-2.031) for protein. The mean bias ratio (with 95% LOA) for INTERVIEW vs. DATA was 1.016 (0.538-1.919) for energy, 0.995 (0.563-1.757) for carbohydrate, and 1.031 (0.514-2.068) for protein.


DATA has good relative validity for group-level comparisons in athletes. However, there are large variations in the relative validity of individuals’ dietary intake estimates from DATA, particularly in athletes with higher energy and nutrient intakes. DATA can be a useful athlete-specific, digital alternative to conventional 24-h dietary recall methods at the group level. Further development and testing is needed to improve DATA’s validity for estimations of individual dietary intakes.

Energy intake; Carbohydrate; Protein; Dietary observations; Team sports