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Open Access Research

Evaluation of energy and dietary intake estimates from a food frequency questionnaire using independent energy expenditure measurement and weighed food records

Monica H Carlsen*, Inger TL Lillegaard, Anette Karlsen, Rune Blomhoff, Christian A Drevon and Lene F Andersen

Author affiliations

Department of Nutrition, Institute for Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:37  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-37

Published: 15 September 2010

Abstract

Background

We have developed a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) for the assessment of habitual diet, with special focus on the intake of fruit, vegetables and other antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relative validity of the intakes of energy, food and nutrients from the FFQ.

Methods

Energy intake was evaluated against independent measures of energy expenditure using the ActiReg® system (motion detection), whereas 7-days weighed food records were used to study the relative validity of food and nutrient intake. The relationship between methods was investigated using correlation analyses and cross-classification of participants. The visual agreement between the methods was evaluated using Bland-Altman plots.

Results

We observed that the FFQ underestimated the energy intake by approximately 11% compared to the energy expenditure measured by the ActiReg®. The correlation coefficient between energy intake and energy expenditure was 0.54 and 32% of the participants were defined as under-reporters. Compared to the weighed food records the percentages of energy from fat and added sugar from the FFQ were underestimated, whereas the percentage of energy from total carbohydrates and protein were slightly overestimated. The intake of foods rich in antioxidants did not vary significantly between the FFQ and weighed food records, with the exceptions of berries, coffee, tea and vegetables which were overestimated. Spearman's Rank Order Correlations between FFQ and weighed food records were 0.41 for berries, 0.58 for chocolate, 0.78 for coffee, 0.61 for fruit, 0.57 for fruit and berry juices, 0.40 for nuts, 0.74 for tea, 0.38 for vegetables and 0.70 for the intake of wine.

Conclusions

Our new FFQ provides a good estimate of the average energy intake and it obtains valid data on average intake of most antioxidant-rich foods and beverages. Our study also showed that the FFQs ability to rank participants according to intake of total antioxidants and most of the antioxidant-rich foods was good.