Assessing the relative validity of the Scottish Collaborative Group FFQ for measuring dietary intake in adults

Jenna L Hollis, Leone CA Craig, Stephen Whybrow, Heather Clark, Janet AM Kyle, Geraldine McNeill

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To assess the relative validity of the latest version of the Scottish Collaborative Group (SCG) FFQ (version 6.6) in adults living in Scotland.

A cross-sectional validation study. Participants completed the self-administered, 169-item SCG FFQ followed by a 7 d, non-weighed food diary. Energy and energy-adjusted macronutrients and micronutrients were examined for relative validity through Spearman’s correlation, the percentage of classification into thirds of intake, Cohen’s weighted kappa (κw) and Bland–Altman analysis.

General population living in Scotland.

Ninety-six adults aged 18–65 years.

Spearman’s correlation coefficients ranged from 0·21 (retinol) to 0·71 (Mg). A median of 52 % of adults were correctly classified into thirds of intake (range: 42 % (PUFA, MUFA and Fe) to 64 % (percentage energy from carbohydrates)) and 8 % were grossly misclassified into opposite thirds of intake (range: 3 % (carbohydrates, percentage energy from carbohydrates) to 19 % (thiamin)). Values of κw ranged between 0·20 (PUFA, β-carotene) to 0·55 (percentage energy from carbohydrates). In the Bland–Altman analysis, the smallest limits of agreement, when expressed as a percentage of the mean intake from the FFQ and food diary, were seen for the main macronutrients carbohydrates, fat and protein.

As in the previous validation study more than 10 years ago, the FFQ gave higher estimates of energy and most nutrients than the food diary, but after adjustment for energy intake the FFQ could be used in place of non-weighed food diaries for most macronutrients and many micronutrients in large-scale epidemiological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-455
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number3
Early online date13 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank Jacqueline Burr and Lindsey Shaw for collecting the data for this study. Data coding and entry for the food diaries was completed by Dr Lindsey Masson. The authors would also like to acknowledge the Scottish Health Survey Team, the Scottish Government and the National Centre for Social Research for their support in conducting this research. Financial support: This work was supported by funding from the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division (RESAS) programme of the Scottish Government (J.L.H., L.C.A.C., S.W. and G.Mc.N.). The RESAS programme had no role in the design, analysis or writing of this article. Conflict of interest: None. Authorship: J.L.H., L.C.A.C., S.W. and G.Mc.N. were responsible for the design of the study and formulated the research question. L.C.A.C. and S.W. carried out the study. J.L.H. completed the literature review, conducted the statistical analysis and drafted the initial paper. All authors were responsible for drafting and revising the manuscript and have approved the final version. Ethics of human subject participation: This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving human subjects were approved by the Rowett Human Studies Ethical Review Panel. Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.


  • validation
  • dietary assessment
  • food frequency questionnaires
  • epidemiology
  • FFQ


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