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Comparison of a food frequency questionnaire with an online dietary assessment tool for assessing preschool children’s dietary intake

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Abstract:

Abstract Background: 

It is important to assess the dietary habits of children as they progress from early childhood to adolescence. However, there are few validated tools available to assess the diet of this group of children. The present study aimed to investigate the relative validity of a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) developed for use in a biennial longitudinal study. Methods: 

The parents of 216 Belgian–Flemish preschool children completed a FFQ (including questions on 77 food groups) and an online dietary assessment tool for three nonconsecutive days on their child’s diet. Intakes of energy, macronutrients, fibre, calcium and 20 food groups recorded by both methods were compared using Spearman’s correlations, Wilcoxon’s signed rank test and Bland and Altman analyses. Results: 

At the group level, good agreement was found for energy, fat and protein intake, an overestimation was found for carbohydrates (5.6%) and fibre (13.3%), and an underestimation was found for calcium (9%). For the food groups, overestimation as well as underestimation and good agreement were found, although overestimation was most common.

Good agreement was found in ranking the children’s fruit (r = 0.53), beverages (r = 0.58–0.76), soup (r = 0.51), breakfast cereals (r = 0.55) and calcium (r = 0.59) intake according to both methods. Conclusion: 

The results obtained revealed that the FFQ was a useful alternative for estimating energy and macronutrient intake at a group level; however, when used to estimate fibre and calcium intake, respectively, over- and underestimation need to be considered. The short reference period (3 days) may have compromised agreement in ranking and agreement at the individual level.

Keywords: children; food frequency questionnaire; food intake; online; preschool; relative validity

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2009.01038.x

Affiliations: 1: Private Consultant, Zele, Belgium 2: Department of Public Health, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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