Better Methods for Assessing Dietary Intake

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Institute of Public Health


Healthy food is thought to be important in preventing many diseases of adult life, including cancer and heart disease. However, few definite links have been established due to the difficulties of measuring usual diet so that this can be linked to the development or protection from such diseases in later life. We propose to model underlying methods for an easy to use but accurate system of measuring diet which can be used in studies assessing the relationship between the food we eat and susceptibility to these diseases.

Technical Summary

Large prospective studies are needed to test hypotheses arising from established and novel lines of investigation involving gene-diet interactions in affecting risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer, digestive disorders and diabetes. However, real time dietary intake methods are associated with less measurement error than retrospective questionnaires usually used in such large scale studies. Utlising the largest set of real time data worldwide, from dietary 7 day diaries kept by 20,000 participants in the EPIC Norfolk study, we propose to model methods which can be used to develop straightforward, easy to use direct-to-data electronic diet assessment platforms. Such platforms can be used in new cohort studies, such as Biobank, research and clinical studies. In existing cohorts such a development allows the potential to repeatedly update information at very little extra cost/time to the research investigators and only a minor burden to the study participant.


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Ferrari P (2013) Challenges in estimating the validity of dietary acrylamide measurements. in European journal of nutrition

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Description Sugars Biomarkers
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation World Cancer Research Fund 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Global
Start 01/2009 
End 12/2011
Title Dietary assessment methods 
Description Better dietary assessment methods 
Type Of Material Physiological assessment or outcome measure 
Year Produced 2008 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Use of the assessment methods in other studies 
Description Dr. Jules Griffin Dept of Biochemistry Cambridge 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Biochemistry
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of samples and epidemiologic data
Collaborator Contribution Scientific expertise and collaborative use of specialised equipment and methods and joint training
Impact Currently working together on analysis of samples and data which will result in joint publications
Start Year 2009
Description Unnary sugars analysis 
Organisation University of Reading
Department Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Collection of data and samples
Collaborator Contribution Analysis of biological samples
Impact In progress
Start Year 2009
Title Dietary assessment tool: FFQ 
Description This is a freely available downloadable programme for analysis of dietary intake using food frequency questionnaires. 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2014 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact This is now being used by researchers. As far as we know, this is the only freely available analytic programme for dietary intake assessment 
Description Cambridge Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talks to and activities in the Cambridge Science Festival which stimulated interest in the topics e.g. healthy ageing, use of supplements, dietary recommendations
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016