Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why This Pear Makes Me Wary of Food Frequency Questionnaires

I'm skeptical of food frequency questionnaires.

For those of you who don't know what they are, an FFQ serves in many research studies as the underpinnings of diet history whereby research subjects recall what they've eaten which serves as the basis for the diet aspect of the study at hand.

That pear up above?

It wasn't an exotic variety - it was a Bartlett. It weighed 0.9lbs (60% more than a "large" pear is supposed to) and contained more calories than a Mars bar.

I've also had oranges larger than grapefruits, plums larger than apples, and grapes the size of golf balls.

Coupling the facts that we often forget what we've consumed, that our eyes are terrible scales, and that food has grown dramatically over the years (even foods like fruits), I can't help but question the veracity of FFQs.

Has made me wonder whether or not a photo diary to go along with an FFQ would reduce error.

Might make for a good study.