Assessment of food intakes: Are we measuring what people eat?

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

73 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate assessments of dietary intake are a pre-requisite for assessing the relationships between diet and health. However, the quantification of errors in dietary data has remained largely undetected because of the absence of techniques to verify dietary survey methodology. Recent studies using doubly-labelled water estimates of total energy expenditure to validate self-reported energy intakes have demonstrated that the majority of these are systematically biased towards under-estimation of usual requirements. Bias is unlikely to be consistent in population studies. Subjects who report the highest energy intake tend to estimate their requirements more accurately than these who report low intakes. Mechanisms for cross-checking energy intake data against estimated energy requirements have been developed and provide limited guidance for checking the physiological plausibility of reported intakes, with special emphasis on under-reporting. In the absence of independent validation the evaluation of dietary survey data should be approached with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Biomedical Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1995


  • Diet
  • Energy metabolism
  • Nutrition assessment
  • Validity of results

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Infectious Diseases

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