Dietary Assessment Primer

Comparing Dietary Assessment Instruments

This table provides an at-a-glance comparison of the major features of self-report instruments for assessing diet. Further details on each instrument can be found in the Instrument Profiles. Considerations for the use of different instruments or combinations of instruments in different types of studies can be found in Choosing an Approach for Dietary Assessment.
Recall (24HR)
Record (FR)
Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) Screener (SCR)
Study Design Cross-sectional X X X X
Retrospective     X X
Prospective X X X X
Intervention X   X X
Scope of interest Total diet X X X  
One or a few components     X X
Captures contextual details regarding food preparation, timing of meals, location of meals, etc. Yes X X    
No     X X
Time frame of interest Short term X X    
Long term     X X
Can be used to query diet in distant past Yes     X X
No X X    
Allows cross-cultural comparisons Yes X X    
No     X X
Major type of measurement error Random X X    
Systematic     X X
Potential for reactivity High   X    
Low X   X X
Time required to complete <15 minutes       X
>20 minutes X X X  
Memory requirements Specific X      
Generic     X X
Does not rely on memory   X    
Cognitive difficulty High     X X
Low X X