Public Health Nutrition

Research Paper

Assessing individual dietary intake from common-plate meals: a new tool for an enduring practice

Kathleen Abu-Saada1 c1, Danit R Shahara1, Heiger Abu-Shareba2, Hillel Vardia1, Natalya Bilenkoa1a3 and Drora Frasera1

a1 S. Daniel Abraham International Center for Health and Nutrition, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, POB 653, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel

a2 Department of Epidemiology and Health Services Evaluation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel

a3 Ministry of Health, Southern District, Beer-Sheva, Israel


Objective The purposes of the present study were to estimate individual intake from common-plate meals among Bedouin Arabs using a modified 24 h recall questionnaire, and to evaluate reported energy intake (EI) by comparison with estimated energy requirement (EER).

Design Weighed records were used to develop a method of quantifying intake from common plates. Reported EI and nutrient intakes were obtained from administration of the modified 24 h recall. The relative standard error (RSE) was used to evaluate the reliability of reported nutrient intakes. The FAO/WHO/United Nations University and Oxford equations and reported physical activity levels were used to compute ratios of reported EI to BMR and EER.

Setting Population centres of traditionally semi-nomadic Bedouin Arabs undergoing sedentarization/urbanization in southern Israel.

Subjects A convenience sample of 451 adults (aged 19–82 years).

Results Mean (se) energy intake was 9648 (276) kJ/d (2306 (66) kcal/d) for men and 8230 (172) kJ/d (1967 (41) kcal/d) for women, of which carbohydrates accounted for 63–64 %. The nutrient intakes evaluated had RSE ratios of less than 25 %. EI:EER ratios ranged from 0·86 to 0·89, and from 0·87 to 0·93 among non-dieters who ate the usual amount on the recall day.

Conclusions The modified 24 h recall produced plausible estimates of energy and nutrient intakes, comparable to those obtained with the 24 h recall in other populations. The modified questionnaire makes an important contribution to facilitating large-scale nutritional surveillance in the Bedouin population, and may serve as a model for modifying dietary instruments to quantify individual intake in other populations that practise common-plate eating.

(Received September 04 2008)

(Accepted February 08 2009)

(Online publication May 01 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Email