Many dieticians, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals from different hospitals and clinics attended the lecture titled “Dietary Assessment Tools: A Comparison Of 24-Hour Recall And Food Frequency Questionnaires”, which was held on 6th of April 2011, at Dasman Diabetes Institute. The lecture was presented by Louise Johnson-Down, R.D., M.Sc, who works as Survey Coordinator Food Habits of Canadians, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, for McGill University in Canada.

During the lecture, Ms. Louise highlighted that “the accurate assessment of dietary intake requires good measures of food consumption and can be a challenge. The accuracy of the data can be challenged because error can be introduced by the method, the interviewer, the nutrient database and the expectations of the participant. Ms. Louise mentioned that “Methods of capturing food intake are varied and the choice of method is dependent on the purposes of the research and the funding available. Once nutrient and/or food intake is determined, it can then be compared to risk factors for chronic disease. Nutrient intakes can also be compared to established requirements to evaluate the possibility of over or under-nutrition”.

In addition, in the lecture two common methods were compared: the 24-hour recall and the food frequency questionnaire. The 24-hour recall is typically an interview held in person or over the telephone where a participant is asked to report all the foods eaten in the previous 24 hour period. One 24-hour recall can provide a reliable group mean whereas multiple recalls may approximate usual intake. A food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) can be self-administered or administered by an interviewer and consists of a list of questions regarding the frequency of intake of specific foods over a predetermined time such as a week or a month. FFQs may or may not ask the portion size of the foods investigated.

Moreover, Ms. Louise stated that “the 24-hour recall requires a report of all foods eaten, whereas FFQs can look at general diet, specific foods or nutrients. Quality control systems and nutrient analysis software are necessary for both methods. The 24-hour recall is valid across diverse populations, has very little respondent burden and does not influence the intake of the participant. On the other hand, FFQ must be validated across different cultures but once they are validated, they can be less expensive and assess diet over an extended period of time. The list of foods in an FFQ is a crucial element: it is difficult to capture the variability in foods and cooking practices in a finite list. Both methods rely on cognitive processes such as memory but depending on the design, there may be a greater participant burden with the FFQ. The choice of method is dependent on the goals of the research study and the two methods are often combined in some studies”.

As usual, at the end of the lecture, the audience of the lecture were given certificates of attendance.