Racial Differences in Misclassification of Healthy Eating Based on Food Frequency Questionnaire and 24-Hour Dietary Recalls

UMMS Affiliation

UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center; Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Dietetics and Clinical Nutrition | Human and Clinical Nutrition | Nutritional Epidemiology | Preventive Medicine


Objectives: To examine the agreement in nutrient intake and alternate healthy eating indices (AHEI) between a self-administered Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) and 24-hour recall (24HR) measurements of diet by race, among urban older women.

Design: Cross-sectional observational study

Setting: Urban neighborhoods in Washington, DC, USA.

Participants: Community-dwelling White and Black women aged 65 and older.

Measurements: In 2014 and 2015, 49 White and 44 Black older women were queried on diet using both FFQ and 24-hour recalls. The correlation coefficients of 55 nutrient intake measures and agreements on healthy eating classification between the two instruments were compared overall and by race.

Results: The mean correlation coefficient (rho) was 0.46 for Whites and 0.23 for Blacks. For 47 measures, rho was lower for Blacks. Whites had a strong correlation of ≥0.5 for 28 items, while Blacks had strong correlations for only 3 items. Based on FFQ, the mean (SD) of AHEI were 54.0 (10.3) for Whites and 45.9 (8.8) for Blacks (P< 0.001). Based on 24HR, the mean (SD) were 43.9 (10.8) for Whites and 33.2 (9.6) for Blacks (P< 0.001). Using 32 as the cutoff (40% of maximum AHEI score), 50% of Blacks and 14% of Whites were classified as eating unhealthy based on the 24HR, versus 2.6% and 0% based on the FFQ.

Conclusion: The FFQ has limited ability to accurately assess nutrient intake among older Black women, and tends to underestimate racial differences in healthy eating. The FFQ should be further improved for use in racial disparities research of healthy eating in older age, using a larger sample of older women with racial and geographic diversities.


UMCCTS funding, race, FFQ, 24-hour dietary recalls, bias, healthy eating, diet quality

DOI of Published Version



Olendzki B, Procter-Gray E, Magee MF, Youssef G, Kane K, Churchill L, Ockene J, Li W. Racial differences in misclassification of healthy eating based on food frequency questionnaire and 24-hour dietary recalls. The journal of nutrition, health and aging. 21(7):787-798. doi:10.1007/s12603-016-0839-2

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The journal of nutrition, health and aging

PubMed ID