Tracy L. Hamilton
NS270: Nutritional Assessment & Management
Prof: Melinda Seff
Nutrition Analysis Methods
There are a number of reasons nutritional assessment may be necessary. A person may be trying to reach a weight loss goal, manage a medical condition or improve their athletic performance, to name a few. For as many reasons as there is a need for nutritional assessment, there are as many methods of doing so. These methods include 24-hour recall, Food Record/ Diary, Food Frequency Questionnaire, Diet History, Duplicate Food Collections, Food Balance Sheet, Telephone Interview, Photo and Video Records, and Computerized Techniques.
In the 24-hour recall method, the person is asked to recall as much detail as they can about all of the food and beverages they have consumed in the previous 24 hours. This information is recorded by a trained interviewer for analysis. This interview process generally takes less than 20 minutes to complete, it is simple to administer and it is an inexpensive process. This makes it appropriate for use in clinical settings and it is easy to get multiple recalls from a patient. Some drawbacks of this method are that because it relies on memory, it can be easy to underreport details either due to poor memory or even embarrassment on the part of the interviewee. Some of the typically underreported details include the consumption of alcohol, dressings/sauces and binges on unhealthy foods. Another drawback is that even the most accurate of recall only demonstrates the intake of one day and is not a reliable indicator of a patient’s diet overall.
Food Record/ Diary For this method of assessment, the patient is expected to record all food and beverages consumed at the time they are consumed over the course of one day to one week. This can be an estimated account, relying on standard portion sizes in relation to how the item was served (a bowl, a cup, a scoop, etc.). There is also a weighed food record, which relies on accurate, standard measurement of amounts. This method is generally looked at as a valid record for assessment, as it does not rely on memory/recall, so it tends to be more accurate. It is also accepted as a better overall view of a patient’s typical diet, as it generally spans a longer period of time than just one day. However, there are drawbacks to this method, such as relying on the cooperation of the patient, who can easily forget to record the data, may just not want to do it, or may be illiterate. It is also a time consuming and expensive method of gathering data.
Food Frequency Questionnaire The food frequency questionnaire is a list of approximately 150 foods or food groups and is used to assess how frequently specific nutrients are ingested. The patient responds to each item on the list with how frequently they consume them. There are several different questionnaires available, such as the MEDFICTS Dietary Assessment Questionnaire (Meats, Eggs, Dairy, Fried foods, In baked goods, Convenience foods, Table fats, Snacks), the Willett Questionnaire, Block Questionnaires, Diet History Questionnaire, and the Food Propensity Questionnaire. (Lee & Nieman, 2010). The questionnaires do not require a great deal of time for the patient to complete and are often times seen as being a better representation of the variety in their diet. They do not require a great deal of time to complete and can be self-administered. It is also possible to have a machine read the assessment, which makes this a cost effective means of assessing the data for large numbers of people. Because of these advantages, these questionnaires are a useful tool in researching the correlation between diet and disease. The drawback to this type of questionnaire is that the list of foods available to choose from are limited, which can exclude culturally specific foods. This can lead to an underestimation of the actual intake