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Validation of a food frequency questionnaire to measure intakes of inulin and oligofructose


Background and objectives:

Inulin and oligofructose are prebiotic carbohydrates associated with numerous health benefits. The aim of this study was to accurately measure inulin and oligofructose intakes and to develop and validate a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ).

Subjects and methods:

A 7-d semi-weighed food diary (FD) was used to measure intakes in 66 healthy subjects. A 23-item FFQ was developed to measure short-term inulin and oligofructose intakes over the same 7 days and was completed twice on 2 separate days.


There were no significant differences in inulin intake (4.0±1.3 vs 4.0±1.4 g/d, P=0.646) or oligofructose intake (3.8±1.2 vs 3.8±1.3 g/d, P=0.864) when measured using the 7-d FD or the FFQ. Bland–Altman analysis demonstrated low mean differences between the FD and FFQ in measuring intakes of inulin (−0.09 g/d) and oligofructose (−0.03 g/d). The FFQ categorised 89% of subjects into the same or adjacent tertiles of intakes as the 7-d FD. For the majority of food items, kappa values indicated ‘substantial’ or ‘almost perfect’ agreement for assignment of ‘portion size’ and ‘frequency of consumption’ between the FFQs completed on separate days.


The FFQ is a valid and reliable method for measuring short-term inulin and oligofructose intakes for use in dietary surveys and clinical trials.

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We gratefully acknowledge the US Department of Agriculture and the US Environmental Protection Agency for the use of the Revised FCID. Valuable advice regarding the inulin-type fructans was provided by Prof Marcel Roberfroid (Université Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium). We wish to thank all subjects for participating in this study.


This submission represents original work that has not been published previously and is not currently being considered by another journal.

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Correspondence to K Whelan.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Contributors: KW designed the study. AD, SK, EL, CEM recruited subjects. CEM, SD conducted all dietary, nutrient and inulin intake analysis. KW, SD conducted all data analysis. All authors contributed to data interpretation. KW, SD wrote the manuscript, which was reviewed and approved by all authors.

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Dunn, S., Datta, A., Kallis, S. et al. Validation of a food frequency questionnaire to measure intakes of inulin and oligofructose. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 402–408 (2011).

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  • food frequency questionnaire
  • fructo-oligosaccharides
  • validity
  • reliability
  • inulin
  • oligofructose

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