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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: How to Ask People What They Eat: Improved 24-Hr Intake Method Aids Recall of Foods Eaten

item Ingwersen, Linda
item Cleveland, Linda
item Heendeniya, Kaushalya
item Moshfegh, Alanna

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: April 8, 2004
Publication Date: July 1, 2004
Citation: Ingwersen, L., Cleveland, L., Heendeniya, K., Moshfegh, A. 2004. How to ask people what they eat: Improved 24-hr intake method aids recall of foods eaten [abstract]. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 36. Supplement 1, p. S30.

Technical Abstract: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted research to develop a method for collecting 24-hour food recalls that would engage respondents and help them remember and describe foods eaten the previous day. Variations in the placement of questions and memory cues were used in test interviews, followed by respondent debriefings to elicit opinions of the method just administered. Researchers listened to interviews and noted features that resulted in the recall of additional foods. The method ultimately designed for use in dietary studies provides recall strategies and memory cues within its structure of several steps (or passes) that progress in a logical order. The method employs repetition and prompts for additional food recall by use of a list of foods frequently forgotten, by summarizing foods reported for each eating occasion, by asking if foods were eaten between eating occasions, and by asking about additions to foods. This approach has been automated by USDA and currently is used in the What We Eat in America Survey, the dietary component of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). USDA's methodology research findings can be applied by other researchers studying dietary habits and intakes of individuals or population groups. Other applications include use in the Canadian Community Health Survey, the Healthy Aging in Nationally Diverse Longitudinal Samples (HANDLS) study, and the School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study-III. Nutrient values may be applied to reported foods by using USDA's Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies on our website (

Last Modified: 4/19/2015
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