Recall of Remote Diet

Walter Willett

in Nutritional Epidemiology

Third edition

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199754038
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979448 | DOI:

Series: Monographs in Epidemiology and Biostatistics

Recall of Remote Diet

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  • Medical Statistics and Methodology


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For some diseases, including many cancers, the effect of diet is hypothesized to act many years before diagnosis; thus, the ability to recall diet in the remote past is of considerable interest. Either relatively unstructured diet histories or food-frequency questionnaires can be used to focus questions on a remote period of time, such as during high school or twenty years in the past. This chapter discusses the validity of remotely recalled diets. Studies conducted to date suggest that diet may be recalled with acceptable levels of error up to approximately ten years; beyond this period, greater uncertainty exists. Similarly, diet during adolescence (high school) can be adequately recalled up to about thirty years later, but validity of recall much later in life appears to be low for some, but perhaps not all, aspects of diet. Various factors, including educational level, appear to influence the error in reporting past diets. In some circumstances, errors in reporting are associated with disease status, which has important indications for case-control studies.

Keywords: dietary assessment; remotely recalled diet; remote recall; past diet

Chapter.  4851 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medical Statistics and Methodology

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