New methods and instruments for dietary assessment

Seminar of the Competence Cluster Diet-Body-Brain on the 23rd October, 2017

November 06, 2017

"Instruments for dietary assessment, which are based on the self-reporting of the interviewee, have benefits but limitations" summarized Professor Ute Nöthlings.

The lecture by the nutritional epidemiologist and spokeswoman of the DietBB Cluster marked the start of the seminar series for the winter semester 2017/2018.

Nöthlings introduced the three common dietary assessment instruments in epidemiological research to the approximately 40 participants: the food frequency questionnaire, the 24-hour recall and the (weighed) dietary record. "From validation studies we know that we cannot measure exactly what we want to measure with these methods," said the nutritional epidemiologist and mentioned as an example the underestimation of the total energy intake. In new technologies, Nöthlings sees possibilities for optimizing the dietary assessment in epidemiological studies. In this context, she presented two current projects from her working group: the NutriDiary app, an application that serves as a digital 3-day weighed dietary record and myfood24 a web-based 24-hour recall.

The NutriDiary app is currently tested in the DONALD study and is going to be evaluated and validated. myfood24 is the German version of an originally English-language web-based 24-hour recall, which was developed in cooperation with the University of Leeds. A feasibility study is ongoing to investigate the user-friendliness and acceptance of the web-based dietary assessment instrument.

These new methods solve another problem that scientists in large epidemiological studies have. "Linking the logged foods with nutrient information is a process, which costs a lot of time. By digitizing, these steps are automated so that results can be obtained more quickly.”
Portable sensors that passively measure the food intake are regarded as a promising way to check the self-reported intakes of study participants. Nöthlings gave an overview of the current developments in research on such methods. For example an attachable camera-pin, which automatically takes pictures of consumed meals or a microphone, that recognizes a selection of foods by the chewing noise, are being developed.