Evaluation of a short Food Frequency Questionnaire to assess cardiovascular disease-related diet and lifestyle factors

  • Karianne Svendsen
  • Hege Berg Henriksen
  • Beate Østengen
  • David R. Jacobs Jr.
  • Vibeke H. Telle-Hansen
  • Monica H. Carlsen
  • Kjetil Retterstøl
Keywords: Food frequency questionnaire, validity, biomarkers, fatty acids, dietary assessment, short-FFQ, milk-fat, saturated fat


Background: The Vascular lifestyle-Intervention and Screening in phArmacies (VISA) study investigates diet and lifestyle factors associated with risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). As part of the study methodology, a short Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ), the VISA-FFQ, was adapted from the Norwegian NORDIET-FFQ.

Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the VISA-FFQ and its ability to estimate intakes of foods and lifestyle factors in screening for elevated risk of CVD. The evaluation included assessment of relative validity of intake of milk fat and assessment of reproducibility of several foods and lifestyle factors.

Design: Relative validity of milk fat estimated from the VISA-FFQ was assessed in 307 participants by comparing estimated dietary intake of the fatty acids pentadecanoic acid (15:0) and heptadecanoic acid (17:0), from milk fat with whole blood biomarkers 15:0 and 17:0. Reproducibility was evaluated in 122 participants by comparing consistency in intakes of different foods and lifestyle factors reported by the VISA-FFQ and administered twice with a 4-week interval.

Results: Dietary 15:0 milk fat estimated from the VISA-FFQ correlated positively with whole blood 15:0 (r = 0.32, P < 0.05). Men presented higher correlations than women did. Acceptable and consistent reproducibility (r = 0.44–0.94 and no large difference between test and retest) was observed for most beverages, milk products, spreads on bread and meat (all of which included food items categorised into at least two fat categories) and also for eggs, fruits and vegetables, nuts, pasta and rice, dessert/sweets, smoking and physical activity. Reproducibility did not consistently meet a satisfactory standard (r ≤ 0.41 or large difference between test and retest) for unsweetened cereals, fatty fish, cakes, oils, white-, bread, crispbread and rice.

Conclusion: The validity of the VISA-FFQ was acceptable for intake of milk fat, and there was an overall satisfactory, though variable, reproducibility for intake of several foods and lifestyle factors in the VISA-FFQ.


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How to Cite
Svendsen K., Henriksen H. B., Østengen B., Jacobs Jr. D. R., Telle-Hansen V. H., Carlsen M. H., & Retterstøl K. (2018). Evaluation of a short Food Frequency Questionnaire to assess cardiovascular disease-related diet and lifestyle factors. Food & Nutrition Research, 62. https://doi.org/10.29219/fnr.v62.1370
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