Screeners at a Glance


To obtain basic information about a limited number of foods and beverages consumed or dietary practices over a period of time, typically the past month or year.


Two types of approaches are primarily used for screeners, which are also called short dietary assessment instruments:

  • A short food frequency questionnaire, usually without portion size questions.
  • A behavioral questionnaire that asks about general dietary practices (for example, "Do you generally butter your bread?").

For both approaches, the questionnaire is usually self-administered, but can be interviewer-administered.

Completing a screener about specific dietary components or dietary practices usually requires less than 15 minutes.

See examples of frequency screeners.

See an example (PDF) of a behavioral screener [1].

Utility of Data

Limitations of Data

For frequency-type instruments:

For behavioral-type instruments:

  • The dimensions measured, which may include indices, have no meaning with regard to absolute nutrient or food intake other than ordering individuals in the population. For example, the Adolescent Food Habits Checklist (PDF) is composed of 23 true/false questions that are scored to derive an overall healthy eating behavior score.
  • Use of procedures to score various dimensions of behavior developed in one population may not be appropriate in other populations [3-4].

Salient Features Compared to Other Self-Report Methods

For an at-a-glance comparison of the major features of self-report instruments for assessing diet, including Screeners, see the Comparing Dietary Assessment Instruments table.