Skip to main content Accessibility help

Reproducibility of a food menu to measure energy and macronutrient intakes in a laboratory and under real-life conditions

  • Jessica McNeil (a1), Marie-Ève Riou (a1), Sahar Razmjou (a1), Sébastien Cadieux (a1) and Éric Doucet (a1)...


Given the limitations associated with the measurement of food intake, we aimed to determine the reliability of a food menu to measure energy intake (EI) and macronutrient intake within the laboratory and under free-living conditions. A total of eight men and eight women (age 25·74 (sd 5·9) years, BMI 23·7 (sd 2·7) kg/m2) completed three identical in-laboratory sessions (ILS) and three out-of-laboratory sessions (OLS). During the ILS, participants had ad libitum access to a variety of foods, which they chose from a menu every hour, for 5 h. For the OLS, the foods were chosen from the menu at the start of the day and packed into containers to bring home. There were no significant differences in total EI (6118·6 (sd 2691·2), 6678·8 (sd 2371·3), 6489·5 (sd 2742·9) kJ; NS) between the three ILS and three OLS (6816·0 (sd 2713·2), 6553·5 (sd 2364·5), 6456·4 (sd 3066·8) kJ; NS). Significant intraclass correlations (ICC) for total energy (r 0·77, P < 0·0001), carbohydrate (r 0·81, P < 0·0001), dietary fat (r 0·54, P < 0·0001) and protein (r 0·81, P < 0·0001) intakes for the ILS and significant ICC for total energy (r 0·85, P < 0·0001), carbohydrate (0·85, P < 0·0001), dietary fat (0·72 P < 0·0001) and protein (0·80, P < 0·0001) intakes for the OLS were noted. The average within-subject CV for total EI was 18·3 (sd 10·0) and 16·1 (sd 10·3) % for the ILS and OLS, respectively, with a pleasantness rating for foods consumed of 124 (sd 14) mm out of 150 mm (83 %). Overall, the food menu produces a relatively reliable measure of EI inside and outside the laboratory. The results also underscore the difficulties in capturing a representative image of food intake given the relatively high day-to-day variation in the amount and composition of foods consumed.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: É. Doucet, fax +1 613 562 5291, email


Hide All
1Arvaniti, K, Richard, D & Tremblay, A (2000) Reproducibility of energy and macronutrient intake and related substrate oxidation rates in a buffet-type meal. Br J Nutr 83, 489495.
2Gregersen, NT, Flint, A, Bitz, C, et al. (2008) Reproducibility and power of ad libitum energy intake assessed by repeated single meals. Am J Clin Nutr 87, 12771281.
3Silverstone, T, Fincham, J & Brydon, J (1980) A new technique for the continuous measurement of food intake in man. Am J Clin Nutr 33, 18521855.
4Bingham, SA, Cassidy, A, Cole, TJ, et al. (1995) Validation of weighed records and other methods of dietary assessment using the 24 h urine nitrogen technique and other biological markers. Br J Nutr 73, 531550.
5Schoeller, DA (1995) Limitations in the assessment of dietary energy intake by self-report. Metabolism 44, 1822.
6Lichtman, SW, Pisarska, K, Berman, ER, et al. (1992) Discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects. N Engl J Med 327, 18931898.
7Hill, RJ & Davies, PS (2001) The validity of self-reported energy intake as determined using the doubly labelled water technique. Br J Nutr 85, 415430.
8Heitmann, BL (1993) The influence of fatness, weight change, slimming history and other lifestyle variables on diet reporting in Danish men and women aged 35–65 years. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 17, 329336.
9Lafay, L, Basdevant, A, Charles, MA, et al. (1997) Determinants and nature of dietary underreporting in a free-living population: the Fleurbaix Laventie Ville Sante (FLVS) Study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 21, 567573.
10Johnson, RK (2002) Dietary intake – how do we measure what people are really eating? Obes Res 10, Suppl. 1, 63S68S.
11Skov, AR, Toubro, S, Raben, A, et al. (1997) A method to achieve control of dietary macronutrient composition in ad libitum diets consumed by free-living subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 51, 667672.
12Flood, JE, Roe, LS & Rolls, BJ (2006) The effect of increased beverage portion size on energy intake at a meal. J Am Diet Assoc 106, 19841990, discussion 1990–1981.
13DellaValle, DM, Roe, LS & Rolls, BJ (2005) Does the consumption of caloric and non-caloric beverages with a meal affect energy intake? Appetite 44, 187193.
14Bingham, SA, Gill, C, Welch, A, et al. (1994) Comparison of dietary assessment methods in nutritional epidemiology: weighed records v. 24 h recalls, food-frequency questionnaires and estimated-diet records. Br J Nutr 72, 619643.
15Chaput, JP, Drapeau, V, Poirier, P, et al. (2008) Glycemic instability and spontaneous energy intake: association with knowledge-based work. Psychosom Med 70, 797804.
16Chaput, JP & Tremblay, A (2007) Acute effects of knowledge-based work on feeding behavior and energy intake. Physiol Behav 90, 6672.
17Pomerleau, M, Imbeault, P, Parker, T, et al. (2004) Effects of exercise intensity on food intake and appetite in women. Am J Clin Nutr 80, 12301236.
18Yoshioka, M, Doucet, E, Drapeau, V, et al. (2001) Combined effects of red pepper and caffeine consumption on 24 h energy balance in subjects given free access to foods. Br J Nutr 85, 203211.
19Major, GC, Alarie, FP, Dore, J, et al. (2009) Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and fat mass loss in female very low-calcium consumers: potential link with a calcium-specific appetite control. Br J Nutr 101, 659663.
20Hubert, P, King, NA & Blundell, JE (1998) Uncoupling the effects of energy expenditure and energy intake: appetite response to short-term energy deficit induced by meal omission and physical activity. Appetite 31, 919.
21King, NA (1998) The relationship between physical activity and food intake. Proc Nutr Soc 57, 7784.
22Stubbs, RJ, Sepp, A, Hughes, DA, et al. (2002) The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living men, consuming their normal diet. Eur J Clin Nutr 56, 129140.
23Stubbs, RJ, Sepp, A, Hughes, DA, et al. (2002) The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 26, 866869.
24Whybrow, S, Hughes, DA, Ritz, P, et al. (2008) The effect of an incremental increase in exercise on appetite, eating behaviour and energy balance in lean men and women feeding ad libitum. Br J Nutr 100, 11091115.
25Westerterp, KR, Verboeket-van de Venne, WP, Bouten, CV, et al. (1996) Energy expenditure and physical activity in subjects consuming full-or reduced-fat products as part of their normal diet. Br J Nutr 76, 785795.
26Westerterp, KR, Verboeket-van de Venne, WP, Westerterp-Plantenga, MS, et al. (1996) Dietary fat and body fat: an intervention study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 20, 10221026.
27Verboeket-van de Venne, WP, Westerterp, KR, Hermans-Limpens, TJ, et al. (1996) Long-term effects of consumption of full-fat or reduced-fat products in healthy non-obese volunteers: assessment of energy expenditure and substrate oxidation. Metabolism 45, 10041010.
28van het Hof, KH, Weststrate, JA, van den Berg, H, et al. (1997) A long-term study on the effect of spontaneous consumption of reduced fat products as part of a normal diet on indicators of health. Int J Food Sci Nutr 48, 1929.
29Beaton, GH, Milner, J, McGuire, V, et al. (1983) Source of variance in 24-hour dietary recall data: implications for nutrition study design and interpretation. Carbohydrate sources, vitamins, and minerals. Am J Clin Nutr 37, 986995.
30Tokudome, Y, Imaeda, N, Nagaya, T, et al. (2002) Daily, weekly, seasonal, within- and between-individual variation in nutrient intake according to four season consecutive 7 day weighed diet records in Japanese female dietitians. J Epidemiol 12, 8592.
31Oh, SY & Hong, MH (1999) Within- and between-person variation of nutrient intakes of older people in Korea. Eur J Clin Nutr 53, 625629.
32Ogawa, K, Tsubono, Y, Nishino, Y, et al. (1999) Inter- and intra-individual variation of food and nutrient consumption in a rural Japanese population. Eur J Clin Nutr 53, 781785.
33Cai, H, Shu, XO, Hebert, JR, et al. (2004) Variation in nutrient intakes among women in Shanghai, China. Eur J Clin Nutr 58, 16041611.
34Roddam, AW, Spencer, E, Banks, E, et al. (2005) Reproducibility of a short semi-quantitative food group questionnaire and its performance in estimating nutrient intake compared with a 7-day diet diary in the Million Women Study. Public Health Nutr 8, 201213.
35Bryant, EJ, King, NA & Blundell, JE (2008) Disinhibition: its effects on appetite and weight regulation. Obes Rev 9, 409419.
36King, NA, Caudwell, P, Hopkins, M, et al. (2007) Metabolic and behavioral compensatory responses to exercise interventions: barriers to weight loss. Obesity (Silver Spring) 15, 13731383.
37Lluch, A, King, NA & Blundell, JE (1998) Exercise in dietary restrained women: no effect on energy intake but change in hedonic ratings. Eur J Clin Nutr 52, 300307.
38Lluch, A, King, NA & Blundell, JE (2000) No energy compensation at the meal following exercise in dietary restrained and unrestrained women. Br J Nutr 84, 219225.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed