Examines Effectiveness of Dietary Recall Method
By Jim Core
May 14, 2003
A human nutrition research procedure
called the "dietary recall method" can be used effectively to gauge
people's food consumption, according to a new study by
Agricultural Research Service scientists
in Beltsville, Md. In the study, 133 adults recalled what they ate within 10
percent of the actual amounts of food they consumed.
ARS scientists at the agency's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center
(BHNRC) conducted the study to
test the accuracy of what's called the "5-step multiple pass method,"
a dietary recall procedure developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to
assess food consumption. ARS is USDA's chief scientific research agency.
Congress requires USDA to survey the food intake of Americans. Under that
mandate, BHNRC's Food Surveys Research Group (FSRG) conducts
the "What We Eat in America" survey. Using the survey data,
researchers examine diets as factors in disease or malnutrition, and they help
public policy officials make decisions concerning food safety and food
In the recall study, Joan Conway, a research chemist with BHNRC's
Diet and Human Performance
Laboratory, and FSRG collaborators found that participants overestimated
actual intakes of energy, protein, carbohydrate and fat by less than 10
percent. Previous studies of other 24-hour dietary recall methods found
significant under-reporting of food intake.
Participants ate all meals and snacks for one day in the BHNRC human study
facility. The amount of food they ate was recorded by a dietitian. A structured
telephone interview was conducted the next day using the 5-step multiple pass
method. During the interview, researchers asked participants what they ate the
day before. They were given measuring aids including the USDA Food Model
Booklet, measuring cups and spoons. The food they remembered eating was
compared to the actual recorded amount.