Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Repeatability and validity of a food frequency questionnaire in free-living older people in relation to cognitive function

By Xueli Jia, Leone CA Craig, Lorna S Aucott, Anne C Milne and Geraldine McNeill


Objectives: To determine the repeatability and validity of a self-administered, 175-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) in free-living older people and to assess whether these are influenced by cognitive function. Participants and setting: 189 free-living people aged 64-80y were recruited from participants in a previous study. Design: To assess repeatability, 102 (52M, 50F) participants completed the FFQ on two occasions three months apart. To assess validity, another 87 participants (44 M, 43 F) completed the FFQ and a four-day weighed diet record three months later. 25 nutrients were studied. Results: For repeatability, Spearman rank correlation coefficients were above 0.35 (p<0.05) for all nutrients. Cohen’s weighted Kappa was above 0.4 for all nutrients except starch, riboflavin, retinol, β-carotene, and calcium. There were no substantial differences in correlation coefficients between sub-groups divided by short-term memory test score. There was no clear pattern for correlation coefficients in sub-groups divided by executive function test score. For validity, the Spearman rank correlation coefficients were above 0.2 (p<0.05) for all nutrients except fat, mono-unsaturated fatty acids, niacin equivalents and vitamin D, and Cohen’s weighted kappa was above 0.4 for alcohol and was above 0.2 for 13 other nutrients. Participants in the lowest-score groups of short-term memory and executive function had the lowest median Spearman correlation coefficient. Conclusions: The FFQ had reasonable repeatability and validity in ranking nutrient intakes in this population though the results varied between nutrients. Poor short-term memory or executive function may affect FFQ validity in ranking nutrient intakes

Topics: food frequency questionnaires, repeatability, validity, older people, cognitive ability
Publisher: Editions Serdi
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1986). Altman DG: Statistical method for assessing agreement between two methods of clinical measurement. Lancet doi
  2. (1988). Cereals and Cereal Products. Third Supplement to McCance & Widdowson’s the Composition of Foods, 4th Ed. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry; doi
  3. (1992). Drevon CA: Accuracy of a quantitative food frequency questionnaire applied in elderly Norwegian women.
  4. (1991). Herbs and Spices. Fifth Supplement to McCance & Widdowson’s the Composition of Foods, 4th Ed. Cambridge: Royal Society of Chemistry; doi
  5. (2006). JC: The effect of personal characteristics on the validity of nutrient intake estimates using a food-frequency questionnaire. Public Health Nutr doi
  6. (2005). LD (Writing Group of the MAVIS trial): Effect of multivitamin and multimineral supplements on morbidity from infections in older people (MAVIS trial): pragmatic, randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial. BMJ doi
  7. (2004). Margett BM: Food frequency questionnaires: a review of their design, valuation and utilisation. Nutr Res Rev
  8. Meat Products and Dishes. doi
  9. (1981). Memory scale, 3rd Ed.
  10. Milk Products and Eggs.
  11. Miscellaneous Foods. doi
  12. (1998). National Diet and Nutrition Survey: people aged 65 years and over: Volume 1: Report of the diet and nutrition survey. London: The Stationary Office; doi
  13. Neuropsychological Assessment, 3rd Ed. doi
  14. (1998). Nutritional Epidemiology, 2nd Ed. doi
  15. (1991). Practical statistics for medical research. London: Chapman and Hall; doi
  16. (1998). PWJ: Validity and reproducibility of a self-administered food frequency questionnaire in older people. doi
  17. (2006). Relative validity of a food-frequency questionnaire for preschool children compared with a 4 d diet diary [abstract]. Proc Nutr Soc
  18. (1998). Reproducibility and validity of food-frequency questionnaires. doi
  19. (1991). Royal Society of Chemistry;
  20. (2003). RS: Validity & reproducibility of a food frequency questionnaire by cognition in an older Bricial Sample. Am
  21. (2003). Statistical approaches for assessing the relative validity of a food-frequency questionnaire: use of correlation coefficients and the kappa statistic. Public Health Nutr doi
  22. (1998). Strauss EA: Compendium of neuropsychological tests: administration, norms and commentary, 2nd Ed. doi
  23. (1990). Variability in nutrient and food intakes among older middle-age men: implications for design of epidemiologic and validation studies using food recording.
  24. Vegetable Dishes. doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.