Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Development, validation and utilisation of food-frequency questionnaires – a review

Janet Cadea1 c1, Rachel Thompsona2, Victoria Burleya1 and Daniel Warma2

a1 Nutrition Epidemiology Group, Division of Public Health, Nuffield Institute for Health, 71–75 Clarendon Road, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9PL, UK

a2 Institute of Human Nutrition, Southampton General Hospital, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK


Objective: The purpose of this review is to provide guidance on the development, validation and use of food-frequency questionnaires (FFQs) for different study designs. It does not include any recommendations about the most appropriate method for dietary assessment (e.g. food-frequency questionnaire versus weighed record).

Methods: A comprehensive search of electronic databases was carried out for publications from 1980 to 1999. Findings from the review were then commented upon and added to by a group of international experts.

Results: Recommendations have been developed to aid in the design, validation and use of FFQs. Specific details of each of these areas are discussed in the text.

Conclusions: FFQs are being used in a variety of ways and different study designs. There is no gold standard for directly assessing the validity of FFQs. Nevertheless, the outcome of this review should help those wishing to develop or adapt an FFQ to validate it for its intended use.

(Received August 13 2001)

(Accepted November 06 2001)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email