Many cancers have long latency periods, and dietary factors in adolescence may plausibly affect cancer occurrence in adulthood. Because of a lack of prospective data, retrospective collection of data on adolescent diet is essential. The authors evaluated a 124-item high school food frequency questionnaire (HS-FFQ) assessing diet during high school (15-35 years in the past) that was completed in 1998 by 45,947 US women in the Nurses' Health Study II (NHSII) cohort. To assess reproducibility, the authors readministered the HS-FFQ approximately 4 years later to 333 of these women. The mean Pearson correlation for 38 nutrient intakes was 0.65 (range, 0.50-0.77), and the mean Spearman rank correlation for food intakes was 0.60 (range, 0.37-0.77). Current adult diet was only weakly correlated with recalled adolescent diet (for nutrient intakes, mean r = 0.20). For assessment of validity, 272 mothers of the NHSII participants were asked to report information on their daughters' adolescent diets using the HS-FFQ. In this comparison, the mean Pearson correlation was 0.40 (range, 0.13-0.59) for nutrients, and the mean Spearman rank correlation for foods was 0.30 (range, 0.10-0.61). While further studies are warranted, these findings imply that this food frequency questionnaire provides a reasonable record of adolescent diet.
- Mental recall
- Reproducibility of results