No method currently exists that exactly determines actual food consumption and the nutrient intake derived from it. In our opinion, labeling the elaborate nutrition surveys, which use standardized questionnaires and 24-hour recall protocols, as “anecdotal” reports does not seem appropriate.
24-hour recall protocols are an established method of estimating the mean nutrient intake of a population group (1). For national consumption studies, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends the use of at least two 24-hour recall protocols and a food propensity questionnaire to collect information on less frequently eaten foods (2).
In the German National Nutrition Survey II (NVS II) that we cited (3), and which was criticized by Mr. Selig, diet history interviews were carried out in addition to two 24-hour recall protocols. Moreover, weighed food records were carried out twice for a subsample over four consecutive days during the study (4).
Further improving nutrition surveys is important and is currently a very active field of research. The latter is particularly true for alternative survey methods that are not based on human reports. Photographic methods are not yet fully developed or sufficiently validated. Biomarkers are currently of limited help, as there are often no generally recognized threshold values for classifying the nutritional status, and direct biomarkers for various nutrients are missing. To some extent, several biomarkers merely reflect the current rather than the long-term supply for the given nutrient.
In conclusion, it should be noted that especially combining various nutrition survey tools can provide sound and valid information about the situation of population groups. Nutrition surveys are an indispensable way to develop recommendations for action at the population level.
On behalf of the authors
Prof. Dr. oec. troph. Sabine Rohrmann
Institut für Epidemiologie,
Biostatik und Prävention
Universität Zürich, Switzerland
Conflict of interest statement
The authors of both contributions declare that no conflict of interest exists.
|1.||Crispim SP, de Vries JH, Geelen A, et al.: Two non-consecutive 24 h recalls using EPIC-Soft software are sufficiently valid for comparing protein and potassium intake between five European centres—results from the European Food Consumption Validation (EFCOVAL) study. Br J Nutr 2011; 105: 447–58 CrossRef MEDLINE|
|2.||European Food Safety Authority: Guidance on the EU methodology. EFSA Journal 2014; 12: 3944 CrossRef|
|3.||Jungert A, Quack Lötscher K, Rohrmann S: Vitamin substitution beyond childhood—requirements and risks. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2020; 117: 14–22 VOLLTEXT|
|4.||Max Rubner-Institut, Bundesforschungsinstitut für Ernährung und Lebensmittel. Ergebnisbericht, Teil 1. Nationale Verzehrsstudie II. Karlsruhe 2008. https://www.bmel.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/_Ernaehrung/NVS_Ergebnisbericht.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=2 (last accessed on 12 March 2020).|