Validity and reliability of a new food frequency questionnaire compared to 24 h recalls and biochemical measurements: pilot phase of Golestan cohort study of esophageal cancer

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A pilot study was carried out to evaluate validity and reproducibility of a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), which was designed to be used in a prospective cohort study in a population at high risk for esophageal cancer in northern Iran.


The FFQ was administered four times to 131 subjects, aged 35-65 years, of both sexes. Twelve 24-h dietary recalls for two consecutive days were administered monthly during 1 year and used as a reference method. The excretion of nitrogen was measured on four 24-h urine samples, and plasma levels of β-carotene, retinol, vitamin C and α-tocopherol was measured from two time points. Relative validity of FFQ and 24-h diet recall was assessed by comparing nutrient intake derived from both methods with the urinary nitrogen and plasma levels of β-carotene, retinol, vitamin C and α-tocopherol.


Correlation coefficients comparing energy and nutrients intake based on the mean of the four FFQ and the mean of twelve 24-h diet recalls were 0.75 for total energy, 0.75 for carbohydrates, 0.76 for proteins and 0.65 for fat. Correlation coefficients between the FFQ-based intake and serum levels of β-carotene, retinol, vitamin C and vitamin E/α-tocopherol were 0.37, 0.32, 0.35 and 0.06, respectively. Correlation coefficients between urinary nitrogen and FFQ-based protein intake ranged from 0.23 to 0.35. Intraclass correlation coefficients used to measure reproducibility of FFQ ranged from 0.66 to 0.89.


We found that the FFQ provides valid and reliable measurements of habitual intake for energy and most of the nutrients studied.

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