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An easy-to-use semiquantitative food record validated for energy intake by using doubly labelled water technique



Estimating dietary intake is important for both epidemiological and clinical studies, but often lacks accuracy.


To investigate the accuracy and validity of energy intake estimated by an easy-to-use semiquantitative food record (EISQFR) compared to total energy expenditure (TEE) estimated by doubly labelled water technique (EEDLW).


TEE was measured in 29 nonobese subjects using the doubly labelled water method over a period of 14 days. Within this period, subjects reported their food consumption by a newly developed semiquantitative food record for 4 consecutive days. Energy intake was calculated using the German Food Code and Nutrition Data Base BLS II.3.


A good correlation was observed between EISQFR and EEDLW (r=0.685, P<0.001). The mean difference between EISQFR and EEDLW was −1.7±2.6 MJ/day (−14±21%, P=0.002). An underestimation of EISQFR <10% was observed in nine subjects (31%), of 10–20% in six subjects (21%), and of >20% in nine subjects (31%). In five subjects (17%), an overestimation of EISQFR was observed.


The easy-to-use semiquantitative food record provided good estimates of EI in free-living and nonobese adults without prior detailed verbal instructions. The presented food record has limitations regarding accuracy at the individual level.

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This study was carried out with financial support from the Commission of the European Communities, BodyLife IST-2000-25410, specific RTD programme ‘User-friendly Information Society’. It does not necessarily reflect its views and in no way anticipates the Commission's future policy in this area. We thank Silvie Pester, Dagmar Vulprecht and Eileen Nebel for their technical assistance and all the subjects that participated in this study.

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Correspondence to C Koebnick.

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Guarantor: C Koebnick.

Contributors: IH, CK, AF, KW and GD designed the food record. CK, ALG, KW, AH and CL contributed to the design of the study. KW, GD, UT conducted the study. CK, KW, PL, ALG and UT were responsible for the data management, statistical analysis and interpretation of the data. FT, GD, HM contributed to the analysis of the DLW samples. CK, AH, GD, KW, ALG and UT performed the literature research. All authors contributed to the data collection and writing of the manuscript. HJFZ is the principal investigator and contributed to all parts of the study.

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Koebnick, C., Wagner, K., Thielecke, F. et al. An easy-to-use semiquantitative food record validated for energy intake by using doubly labelled water technique. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 989–995 (2005).

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  • semiquantitative food record
  • energy intake
  • doubly labelled water
  • energy expenditure
  • dietary assessment

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