ASA24® Respondent Website Methodology



The ASA24 guides respondents through the 24-hour recall or food record using a modified version of the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM) with two main differences, timing and order of the questions.


  • The 24-hour recall asks respondents about everything they ate and drank the previous day or in the last 24 hours. A researcher has the option to set up a study to ask about food the previous day (midnight to midnight) or in the last 24 hours (from the time they login to 24 hours before, e.g. 2 p.m. today to 2 p.m. yesterday). The respondent needs to complete the recall by midnight the day of the login or 8 a.m. the next day, depending on the settings selected by the researcher.
  • The food record, also known as a food diary, asks respondents about the foods as they are eating in real time. A researcher can set up the food record to include a single-day or multiple consecutive-days. Respondents can review their information, add information, and complete missed days for up to one day after completing the record. The timing of the single-day record and consecutive-day record starts when the respondent logs in to ASA24. For consecutive-day food records for multiple days, the first day is the day the respondent first logs in through the last day of data collection.

Order of Questions

  • The 24-hour recall is based on the AMPM method where a respondent first reports all eating occasions, and then the foods, beverages, and supplements in those eating occasions. Once the respondent has reported all of the foods, beverages, and supplements they consumed, they are asked about the details of each item. After reporting the details, the respondent proceeds to the Final Review, Forgotten Foods, and Usual Amount Questions.
  • The food record is set up differently because it is considered to be “real time” reporting where respondents can log in and out throughout the day. The respondent reports their eating occasions, the foods, beverages, and supplements in that eating occasion, and then they answer the detail questions. After reporting the details, respondents are asked if this is their last eating occasion for the day. If not, then the respondent can continue to report in a similar fashion throughout the day. After the respondent’s last eating occasion, they go through the final review, forgotten foods, and usual amount questions to complete the day.
  • For 2016 and later versions of ASA24, respondents report supplements similar to how they report foods as part of an eating occasion. If the supplement module is not turned on, respondents can still report supplements, but they will not be explicitly prompted to do so.

For additional information on recalls and food records please visit NCI’s Dietary Assessment Primer.

Methodology for Collecting 24-hour Dietary Recalls

There are up to nine steps or passes (described below) used by ASA24 to facilitate respondents’ reporting of 24-hour dietary recalls.

Graphic depicting steps for completing 24-hour dietary recalls and food records using ASA24
Description below.

Figure: An infographic detailing the steps for completing 24-hour food recalls or food records using ASA24. These include: step 1: meal-based quick list (breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner); step 2: meal gap review; step 3: detail pass; step 4: final review; step 5: forgotten foods; step 6: last chance; and step 7: usual intake question. The process for food records is very similar. The difference is that step 2 and step 3 are reversed.

Methodology for Collecting Food Records

During study setup, researchers select how many days they want respondents to collect food records. The days can be consecutive or nonconsecutive. ASA24 instructs respondents to complete a food record in real time. The methodology for food records was adapted from the ASA24 methodology for 24-hour recalls, described above. The steps for any given day of a food record include:

  1. Meal-based Quick List
  2. Detail Pass
  3. Meal Gap Review

After each meal reported, respondents are asked if they are finished reporting for the day. If not, on their next login, they return to step 1 to report another meal. If they are finished for the day, they go to step 4.

  1. Final Review
  2. Forgotten Foods
  3. Last Chance
  4. Usual Intake Question
  5. Sleep Module, if selected by the researcher (Note: Only available for ASA24-2020 and 2022 versions)

Meal-based Quick List

During the first step of a 24-hour recall or food record, respondents create a Quick List of all the foods, drinks, and supplements they consumed during the reporting period. For a 24-hour recall, the researcher can define the reporting period as either the previous 24 hours (from midnight to midnight) or the 24 hours before the respondent first logged into ASA24. During a food record report, respondents create the list of foods, drinks, and supplements for the meal they are reporting.

To create the Quick List, respondents search to find foods, drinks, and supplements. Search results correspond to items associated with the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) and dietary supplement food codes. Search results can be filtered by food groups, if desired. Since ASA24-2018, respondents can also add recipes during the Quick List step. This feature lets respondents report, edit, and save recipes. Respondents can also identify their favorite foods and drinks using a star icon.

Items are listed on the My Foods and Drinks page as they are added to meals and eating occasions.

Meal Gap Review

Once respondents finish entering their list of foods and drinks, they are asked if they consumed anything during any 3-hour gaps between meals and snacks. During the Gap Review, respondents can add snack(s) and meal(s) and the corresponding foods, drinks, and supplements they consumed.

Detail Pass

Respondents are asked for details about the foods and drinks they recorded during the Quick List, including form (e.g., raw or cooked), preparation method (e.g., grilled or roasted), recipe ingredients, the amount consumed, and any additions (e.g., sugar, coffee cream, or salad dressing). During study setup, researchers can select an option to ask respondents about the source (e.g., grocery store or farmer's market) of all or most of the ingredients in their reported foods and drinks.

Final Review

Respondents are asked to review all of the foods, drinks, and supplements they reported for the intake day. Respondents can return to the My Foods and Drinks page to edit existing items or to add meals, foods, drinks, and supplements.

Forgotten Foods

Following the Final Review, respondents are asked if they consumed any commonly forgotten foods and drinks (e.g., snack foods, fruits, vegetables, cheese, water, coffee, tea, and supplements, if the supplement module is turned on). Respondents must select either "Yes" or "No" for each question. For any "Yes" response, the respondent is returned to the My Foods and Drinks page to add the forgotten item(s).

Last Chance

After Forgotten Foods, respondents are asked if they reported all foods, drinks and, if the supplement module is turned on, supplements. If not, respondents are returned to the My Foods and Drinks page to add more items; otherwise, they move to the Usual Intake Question.

Usual Intake Question

For recalls, the final question asks: Was the amount of food and drink that you had yesterday more than usual, usual, or less than usual? For records, the final question asks: Was the amount of food and drink that you had on [record day] more than usual, usual, or less than usual?

Sleep Module

This optional module allows researchers to examine the associations between sleep and dietary intake, timing of eating, and other variables in the context of the 24-hour day. When researchers turn on the sleep module during the creation of new ASA24 studies, respondents will be prompted to answer questions about sleep timing, quantity, and quality after they complete their diet assessment. The questions asked during the sleep module can be found in Appendix D of the ASA24-2020 Researcher Instructions.

The methodology used to create the sleep module is described in the following abstract:

Shams-White M, O’Connor L, O’Connor S, Miller A, Mittl B, Nicholson T, Kaefer C, Herrick K. Development of a Sleep Assessment Module in the Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour (ASA24) Dietary Assessment Tool: New Research Opportunities. Curr Dev Nutr. 2021 Jun; 5(Suppl 2): 474.

Depending on whether a researcher uses a dietary recall or record, they can capture different sleep periods and thus investigate different research questions.

For researchers using the recall, the sleep module includes two questions on wake time and sleep quality for the sleep period immediately preceding the first reported meal, then primarily focuses on the sleep period after the last meal. This allows researchers to assess morning fasting or how dietary intake may influence the following night of sleep.

For researchers using food records, the sleep module focuses on the sleep period prior to the first meal. A single-day food record with the sleep module allows researchers to assess how the previous night of sleep may influence subsequent dietary intake. The use of consecutive-day food records with the sleep module allows researchers to also assess how dietary intake may influence the following night of sleep.

ASA24 is a registered trademark of HHS.