Research Article

Validation of a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire used among 2-year-old Norwegian children

LF Andersena1a2 c1, B Landea1a3, K Trygga1 and G Haya1

a1 Institute for Nutrition Research, University of Oslo, Norway

a2 Division of Epidemiology, 1300 S Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA

a3 Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Welfare, Department for Nutrition, Oslo, Norway


Objectives: An adequate diet is of profound importance in infancy and early childhood. To ensure an optimal diet, knowledge about actual intake must be obtained. The aims of this study were to assess the validity of a semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire (SFFQ) applied in a large nation-wide survey among 2-year-old children and to examine the validity of the SFFQ in relation to different background parameters.

Design: The SFFQ was administered to the parents close to the child's second birthday, and one to two weeks later they started to weigh and record the child's diet for 7 days.

Subjects: One-hundred and eighty-seven families with a 2-year-old child completed both methods.

Results: There were no differences between the intakes of protein, saturated fatty acids, total carbohydrates and calcium estimated from the two methods. The average intake of all micronutrients, except for calcium, was overestimated by the SFFQ. Bland–Altman plots showed a systematic increase in difference between the two methods with increasing intake for most nutrients. Spearman correlation coefficients between methods for nutrient intakes ranged from 0.26 to 0.50, the median correlation was 0.38. The correlations increased when estimates were adjusted for energy intake, the median correlation being 0.52. Differences in observed validity were found according to the number of siblings.

Conclusions: This study indicates that the SFFQ may be a valuable tool for measuring average intakes of energy, macronutrients and several food items among a 2-year-old population in Norway. The ability of the questionnaire to rank children according to intakes of nutrients and food items was rather low.

(Received September 29 2003)

(Accepted February 16 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email