Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Characteristics of misreporters of dietary intake and physical activity

Lone Banke Rasmussena1 c1, Jeppe Matthiessena1, Anja Biltoft-Jensena1 and Inge Tetensa1

a1 Department of Nutrition, Danish Institute for Food and Veterinary Research, Mørkhøj Bygade 19, DK-2860 Søborg, Denmark


Objective To characterise misreporters of energy intake (EI) and energy expenditure (EE).

Design Cross-sectional study, using a validated position and motion instrument, ActiReg®, as the reference method to study misreporters of EI and of EE. EI was measured using a dietary record and EE using a physical activity questionnaire (PAQ). Misreporters were defined as subjects outside the 95% confidence limits of agreement between EI or EE reported/EE measured.

Setting Free-living Danish volunteers.

Subjects One hundred and thirty-eight volunteers aged between 20 and 59 years.

Results Body mass index, smoking, ‘try to eat healthily’ and worries about weight were related to degree of under-reported EI. The percentage energy from added sugar was lowest (P < 0.001) and the percentage energy from protein (P < 0.001) highest in under-reporters compared with acceptable reporters. Subjects who reported being very physically active at work or in leisure time reported a higher EE than measured EE compared with less physically active subjects (P < 0.05). Likewise, subjects who regard themselves as fit or very fit reported a higher EE than subjects who regard themselves as moderately fit (P < 0.05). Possible over-reporters reported less time as very light activity (P = 0.007), more time as moderate activity (P = 0.01) and more time as vigorous activity (P = 0.02) than acceptable reporters.

Conclusions Under-reporting of EI should always be taken into consideration; however, only a few characteristics of under-reporters are consistent among studies. Misreporting of EI was more prevalent than misreporting of EE. The level of physical activity more than the time spent involved in various activities was misreported.

(Received March 16 2006)

(Accepted August 30 2006)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email