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Osteoporos Int. 2006 Feb;17(2):304-12. Epub 2004 Sep 10.

Development and validation of a food frequency questionnaire for assessing dietary calcium intake in the general population.

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Laboratory of Nutrition and Clinical Dietetics, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, 70 El. Venizelou Avenue, 17671, Athens, Greece.


The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) for assessing dietary calcium intake in the general population, since all available questionnaires at present are age- and/or gender-specific. A total of 1001 individuals (including children, adults, and elderly people of both genders) were randomly recruited throughout Greece. Estimates of calcium intake from the 30-item FFQ were compared with those from a multi-pass 24-h recall. The FFQ underestimated mean calcium intake compared to the 24-h recall by (mean+/-SD) -133+/-333 mg/day or -5.4+/-47.6% (P<0.001). The two methods were strongly correlated (r=0.639, P<0.001), but the 95% limits of agreement for individual assessment were rather wide, as the FFQ could provide estimates of calcium intake from 533 mg/day above to 799 mg/day below the 24-h recall. Actual values for surrogate FFQ quartiles manifested a progressive increase, with significant differences between mean calcium intakes (P<0.001). The FFQ could identify individuals who consumed less calcium than 800 mg/day or less than the age-specific adequate intake with a relatively high sensitivity (82.8 and 95.5%, respectively), but low specificity (54.9 and 34.1%, respectively). Cross-classification analysis indicated that only 17 subjects (1.7%) were grossly misclassified (lowest quartile for one method and highest quartile for the other), while 827 subjects (82.6%) were correctly classified (into the same or adjacent quartiles). The FFQ could be used in population-based epidemiological studies or screening programs involving individuals of all ages and both genders, where the discrimination of subjects with relatively low (<500 mg/day) and relatively high (>1000 mg/day) calcium intakes is of primary interest. Results, however, do not support its use for the quantitative assessment of individual calcium intakes.

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