Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Validation of a short, qualitative food frequency questionnaire in French adults participating in the MONA LISA-NUT study 2005-2007.

PMID 24083967


Food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) are often used to evaluate individuals' food intakes in epidemiologic studies because of their simplicity and low cost. To assess the validity of a short (24 items), qualitative FFQ used in the MONA LISA-NUT study. Cross-sectional study of a representative sample in three French counties. The sample included 2,630 participants aged 35 to 65 years from the MONA LISA-NUT study. Food consumption was measured with the FFQ and via food records for 3 consecutive days. Plasma fatty acids were measured from a subset of participants. The FFQ items' validity was assessed by calculating crude and deattenuated Pearson correlation coefficients between frequencies reported by the FFQ and average weights reported by the food records. Furthermore, the validity of some items of the FFQ measuring the consumption of fatty foods was assessed by calculating Pearson correlation coefficients between frequencies of consumption of these foods and dosages of the corresponding plasma fatty acids: fish and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), olive oil and oleic acid, margarine and elaidic acid, and dairy products and pentadecanoic and heptadecanoic acids. The mean of the deattenuated Pearson correlation coefficients for all items was 0.46, with values ranging from 0.22 (fried food) to 0.77 (breakfast cereal). The correlation coefficient was ≤ 0.4 for one third of the 24 items. Moderate correlations were found between fish and EPA/DHA (EPA: r=0.43, 95% CI 0.33 to 0.51; DHA: r=0.39, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.47), but not for other food items. One third of the 24 items in the short, qualitative FFQ evaluated here were not sufficiently valid. However, for the food groups most commonly studied in the literature, this FFQ had the same degree of validity as other questionnaires designed to classify subjects according to their level of intake.

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cis-4,7,10,13,16,19-Docosahexaenoic acid, analytical standard