Selection of food items for inclusion in a newly developed food-frequency questionnaire Academic Article uri icon


  • Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation Department, Faculty of Health Sciences,Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, IsraelSubmitted 1 October 2003: Accepted 7 January 2004AbstractObjectives: To highlight the differences between the food list required in a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) torank peopleby theirintakeand the fooditems thatcontribute to absolute intake, and to discuss possible applications.Methods: We conducted a nutritional survey among 1173 adults using an adapted 24-hour recall questionnaire.Statisticalanalysis:TodevelopanFFQ,weanalysedthe24-hourrecallsurveydatabyperforming a stepwise multiple regression after grouping conceptually similar fooditems into 175 food groups.Results: In total, 126 food groups were included in the developed FFQ in order toexplain at least 80% of the variance in the consumption of each of 27 nutrients. ThenutrientsthatwereexplainedbyafewfoodgroupswerevitaminA(onefoodgroup),alcohol (two), b-carotene (two), vitamin E (three) and cholesterol (five). Nutrientsthatwereexplainedbyalargenumberoffoodgroupswereenergy(37foodgroups),potassium(31),magnesium(31),dietaryfibre(30),phosphorus(31)andsodium(29).Using energy intakeasan example,soft drinks were the bestbetween-person energyclassifiers,whileprovidingonly2.4%ofthetotalenergyintake.Wine,seedsandnuts,whichcontributedhighlytothevariance,wereminorenergycontributors.Incontrast,milk, sugar, fried chicken/turkey breast or whole chicken/turkey, which explainedlittle of the variation in the population, were major energy contributors.Conclusions: Developing an FFQ on the basis of common foods may not explain thebetween-person variation required for ranking individual intake in diet–diseasestudies. Producing lists of ‘discriminating items’ can be a useful application indeveloping mini-FFQs for selected nutrients.KeywordsFood-frequency questionnaire24-Hour recallBetween-person variationAbsolute intakeA food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) is designed toidentify foods that discriminate between individualnutrient intakes

publication date

  • January 1, 2004