Over the past 3 years, the Food4Me project has been investigating new and better ways to provide people with nutritional advice at a personalized level; taking into account factors like age, gender, physical activity, BMI, phenotypic information (e.g. cholesterol, blood sugar) and even genotypic (DNA) information. Of course, the details of someone’s current diet are also vital when providing good personalized nutritional advice. And therefore, dietary intake measurement is also central to the research.
The Food4Me FFQ: automatic nutritional intake analysis
Creme Global is a partner in Food4Me, and in collaboration with leading EU personalized nutrition researchers, has built a new online tool for assessing dietary intake. The Food4Me FFQ (food frequency questionnaire) is a new electronic alternative to traditional methods of recording dietary intake, such as paper-based Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), 24-hour recall, or Weighed Food Record (WFR). The advantages of an online system are clear from the outset. It easily allows for dietary intake to be captured by anyone with access to the internet; the data collected is instantly stored in a secure database; and nutritional analysis can be carried out automatically.
User friendly interface to the Food4Me FFQ: a) Selecting frequency of consumption, and b) Selecting typical portion size
Before fully adopting this new system however, it is necessary to ensure its accuracy in assessing nutrient and food group intake. To test the accuracy of the Food4Me FFQ, research groups in University College Dublin and University of Reading have carried out studies to validate the new method. The first aspect they established was the reproducibility of the method. To show this, they asked a group of participants to complete the FFQ on 2 separate occasions, 4 weeks apart. The nutritional intakes were then compared using statistical methods, and agreement was sufficient to prove that the new method can consistently reproduce intake data.
Next, they asked a subset of same study participants to also record their dietary intake using a 4-day Weighed Food Record (WFR) method; which involves recording all food consumed over a 4-day period in a diary format. The WFR method generally provides a very accurate measure of an individual’s dietary intake, at the cost of being much more time-consuming. The researchers found moderate agreement between the methods for assessing energy and energy-adjusted nutrient intakes. Again, this is an excellent result for the Food4Me FFQ.
Finally, another group of participants were asked to complete both the Food4Me FFQ and an alternative FFQ from the European Prospective Investigation of Cancer (EPIC) Norfolk. The EPIC FFQ is a validated and widely used means of recording dietary intake. The data from both methods were compared and good agreement was shown using statistical methods.
These studies have recently been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Medical Internet Research, and are available on open-access from their website:
If you want to find out more about the Food4Me FFQ, please contact us.