Identification of Psychological Correlates of Dietary Mis-Reporting under Laboratory and Free-Living Environments

Mark Hopkins* (Corresponding Author), Joanna Michalowska, Stephen Whybrow, Graham W. Horgan, R.James Stubbs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Errors inherent in self-reported measures of energy intake (EI) are substantial and well33 documented, but correlates of mis-reporting remain unclear. Therefore, potential predictors of mis-reporting were examined. In Study One, 59 individuals (BMI=26.1±3.8kg/m2, age=42.7±13.6yrs, females=29) completed a 14d stay in a residential feeding behaviour suite where eating behaviour was continuously monitored. In Study Two, 182 individuals
37 (BMI=25.7±3.9kg/m2, age=42.4±12.2yrs, females=96) completed two consecutive days in a residential feeding suite and five consecutive days at home. Mis-reporting was directly quantified by comparing covertly measured laboratory weighed intakes (LWI) to self-reported EI (weighed dietary record; WDR, 24-hr recall, 7-day diet history, food frequency questionnaire; FFQ). Personal (age, sex, %body fat) and psychological traits (personality, social desirability, body image, IQ, eating behaviour) were used as predictors of mis-reporting. In Study One, those with lower psychoticism (p=0.009), openness to experience (p=0.006) and higher agreeableness (p=0.038) reduced EI on days participants knew EI was being measured to a greater extent than on covert days. Isolated associations existed between personality traits (psychoticism, openness to experience), eating behaviour (emotional eating) and differences
between the LWI and self-reported EIs, but these were inconsistent between dietary assessment techniques and typically became non-significant after accounting for multiplicity of comparisons. In Study Two, sex was associated with differences between LWI and the WDR 50 (p=0.009), 24-hr recall (p=0.002) and diet history (p=0.050) in the laboratory, but not home environment. Personal and psychological correlates of mis-reporting identified displayed no
clear pattern across studies or dietary assessment techniques, and had little utility in predicting mis-reporting
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-275
Number of pages12
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Early online date8 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

The authors’ responsibilities were as follows: RJS, and GWH conceived the project; RJS, SW and the project team (Leona O’Reilley and Zoe Fuller) conducted the research. MH performed the statistical analysis. MH wrote the initial manuscript, while all authors commented on the manuscript. RJS had primary responsibility for final content.
Disclosure of funding:
The present study was funded by the Food Standards Agency, UK, and The Scottish Government's Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division. None of the funding bodies had a role in the design, analysis or writing of this article.

Data Availability Statement

For supplementary material referred to in this article, please visit


  • Dietary intake
  • self-report
  • mis-reporting
  • psychological predictors
  • Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness Personality Inventory-Revised
  • weighed dietary record
  • percentage body fat
  • Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire
  • energy intake
  • Eysenck-100
  • intelligence quotient
  • laboratory weighed intakes


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