National Cancer Institute
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Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods
Cancer Control and Population Sciences

Short Dietary Assessment Instruments

Short dietary assessment instruments, often called screeners, may be useful in situations that do not require assessment of the total diet or quantitative accuracy in dietary estimates. Recognizing the need for these tools, the Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch (RFMMB) has developed several short instruments that assess intake of fruits and vegetables, percentage energy from fat, fiber, added sugars, whole grains, calcium, dairy products, and red and processed meats.

Some tools have been evaluated in cross-sectional general population studies, and in self-selected samples in intervention research. In addition, these tools have been used in large population studies, such as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), which had only very limited room for questions on diet.

Estimates of intake from short dietary assessment instruments are not as accurate as those from more detailed methods, such as 24-hour dietary recalls. Short dietary assessment instruments may be most useful for:

  • characterizing a population's median intakes;
  • discriminating among individuals or populations with regard to higher vs. lower intakes;
  • examining interrelationships between diet and other variables; and
  • comparing findings from a smaller study to a larger population study, such as the NHIS or CHIS.
Dietary Screeners by Type of Intake Measured
Screener Fruit & Vegetable Percentage Energy from Fat Fiber/Whole Grains Added Sugars Dairy Calcium Red Meat/Processed Meat
With portion size questions Without portion size questions
Fruit & Vegetable Intake Screeners in the Eating at America's Table Study (EATS) X              
Percentage Energy from Fat Screener     X          
Multifactor Screener in the Observing Protein and Energy Nutrition (OPEN) Study   X X X        
Multifactor Screener in the 2000 NHIS Cancer Control Supplement (CCS)   X X X        
Five-Factor Screener in the 2005 NHIS Cancer Control Supplement (CCS)   X   X X X X  
Fruit and Vegetable Screener in the 2000 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)   X            
Dietary Screener in the 2005 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)   X     X      
Dietary Screener in the NHANES 2009-10   X   X X X X X
Dietary Screener in the 2009 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)   X     X      
Dietary Screener in the 2010 NHIS Cancer Control Supplement (CCS)   X   X X X X X


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Last modified:
09 Nov 2009
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