Adult recall of adolescent diet: Reproducibility and comparison with maternal reporting

Sonia S. Maruti, Diane Feskanich, Graham A. Colditz, A. Lindsay Frazier, Laura A. Sampson, Karin B. Michels, David J. Hunter, Donna Spiegelman, Walter C. Willett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-97
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Adolescent
  • Diet
  • Mental recall
  • Mothers
  • Nutrition
  • Questionnaires
  • Reproducibility of results


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