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Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Short Dietary Assessment Instruments


Short dietary assessment instruments, often called screeners, may be useful in situations that do not require assessment of the total diet or quantitative accuracy in dietary estimates.

Estimates of intake from short dietary assessment instruments are not as accurate as those from more detailed methods, such as 24-hour dietary recalls.

Instruments and Analytical Files

View links to various dietary screeners described in the table on this page, SAS code, and other related files.

View Files

Short dietary assessment instruments may be most useful for:

  • characterizing a population's median intakes;
  • discriminating among individuals or populations with regard to higher vs. lower intakes;
  • examining interrelationships between diet and other variables; and
  • comparing findings from a smaller study to a larger population study.

Recognizing the need for these tools, the Risk Factor Assessment Branch (RFAB) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has developed several short instruments that assess intake of fruits and vegetables, percentage energy from fat, fiber, added sugars, whole grains, calcium, dairy products, and red and processed meats.

Some of these tools have been evaluated in cross-sectional general population studies, and in self-selected samples in intervention research. In addition, these tools have been used in large population studies, such as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)External Web Site Policy, which had only very limited room for questions on diet.

RFAB also created the Register of Validated Short Dietary Assessment Instruments to provide easy access to descriptive information about validated short dietary assessment instruments developed by the broader scientific community.

The table below summarizes the possible dietary constructs measured by the various dietary screeners that NCI staff have developed. View screeners, related methodological information, and analytic files associated with the dietary assessment tools used in the surveys below.

Screener Fruit & Vegetable Percentage Energy from Fat Fiber/Whole Grains Added Sugars Dairy Calcium Red Meat / Processed Meat
With portion size questions Without portion size questions
Dietary Screener Questionnaire (DSQ) in National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)
DSQ in NHANES 2009-10   X   X X X X X
Dietary Screeners in National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplements (CCS)
Dietary Screener in 2015 NHIS CCS   X   X X X X X
Dietary Screener in 2010 NHIS CCS   X   X X X X X
Five-Factor Screener in 2005 NHIS CCS   X   X X X X  
Multifactor Screener in 2000 NHIS CCS   X X X        
Dietary Screeners in California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)
Dietary Screener in 2009 CHIS   X     X      
Dietary Screener in 2005 CHIS   X     X      
Fruit and Vegetable Screener in 2000 CHIS   X            
Other Surveys
Fruit & Vegetable Intake Screeners in the Eating at America's Table Study (EATS) X              
Percentage Energy from Fat Screener     X          
Multifactor Screener in Observing Protein and Energy Nutrition (OPEN) Study   X X X