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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan;70(1):104-8. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2015.116. Epub 2015 Jul 22.

Reliability of a food menu to measure energy and macronutrient intake in adolescents.

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Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Behavioural and Metabolic Research Unit, School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the reliability of a food menu to measure energy and macronutrient intake within the laboratory and under real-life conditions in adolescents.


A total of 12 boys and 8 girls (age 14.3 (s.d. 2.4) years, body mass index (BMI) 20.8 (s.d. 4.0) kg/m(2)) completed two identical in-laboratory sessions (ILS) and two out-of-laboratory sessions (OLS). During the ILS, participants had ad libitum access to a variety of foods (74 items in total), which they chose from a menu every hour, for 5 h (0800-1300 h). For the OLS (1300 h until bedtime), the foods were chosen from the same menu at 1300 h and packed into containers to bring home with them.


Test-retest analysis of energy and macronutrient intake revealed no significant differences (ILS and OLS). Intra-class correlations ranged between 0.69 and 0.83 (ILS) and between 0.48 and 0.73 (OLS) for energy and macronutrient intake (all P<0.01). Within-subject coefficients of variation ranged between 12.9% and 23.5% for the ILS and between 24.0% and 37.7% for the OLS. Bland-Altman plots showed acceptable agreement. Finally, the food menu was well appreciated by the participants with a 75% appreciation rate on a visual analog scale.


This food menu provides a reasonably reliable measure of energy and macronutrient intake in adolescents, irrespective of sex and BMI, especially inside the laboratory setting. Despite the difficulties in capturing a stable measure of energy intake in research, this tool could be a useful addition to the methods currently used to assess ad libitum food intake in youth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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