University of Vermont

University of Vermont Clinical Research Center

Nutritional Assessment

Bionutrition Services

Nutrition Assessment

A complete assessment of a volunteer’s nutritional status by a Registered Dietitian.  A standard assessment takes into account various parameters such as anthropometrics, medical history, diet history, laboratory values, and any factors compromising nutrition intake.  Energy and nutrient requirements are estimated and specific recommendations are made.  The parameters that are monitored and/or documented can be tailored for your study.   

There are a variety of techniques to assess dietary intake, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. All dietary assessment methods are limited and absolute validity is difficult to determine. However, this limits all researchers and it sometimes makes sense to collect dietary intake data, even if the information is flawed. Keep in mind that collection and assessment of dietary intake is burdensome to subjects, staff, and is very costly. Carefully consider how you will use the data and if it is really essential for your study. Consult Emily Tarleton , MS, RD (847-4730) for help choosing the technique most appropriate for your study. Some techniques allow for a quantitative assessment using our nutritional analysis software. Please indicate what technique you would like and whether or not you want a computer analysis.

A) Twenty-four Hour Recall

A retrospective detailed interview conducted by a Registered Dietitian to determine a subject's dietary intake from the preceding 24-hour period. The burden to the volunteer is low but you have to collect serial recalls to adequately characterize usual intake. A quantitative assessment is possible with 24-hour recalls.

B) Multiple-day Food Diary

Volunteers are asked to measure or weigh everything they eat for a specified number of days. Subject burden is high but food diaries are useful for motivating people in intervention studies and are considered the gold standard in dietary assessment. A quantitative assessment is possible with food diaries.

C) Diet History

An-depth interview conducted by a Registered Dietitian to determine the volunteer’s usual meal patterns and other details of dietary intake. Diet histories typically provide qualitative rather than quantitative information. The type of information collected can be tailored to meet the needs of your study.

D) Food Frequency Questionnaires (FFQ)

FFQs are standardized forms inquiring about the frequency of intake of different foods or food groups. They are not as accurate as other measures but are useful in large population studies or when studying the association of a specific food(s) and a disease. Several validated questionnaires exist and the most appropriate one will depend on your study. Some questionnaires can be scanned and quantitatively assessed. Contact Emily Tarleton , MS, RD (847-4730) as soon as possible if you think you want to use a FFQ.


Twenty-four hour recalls or multiple-day food diaries are analyzed on the computer using The Food Processor or the Food Intake Analysis System (FIAS). A spreadsheet is generated detailing the intake of a variety of macro and micronutrients. If you want help interpreting the data, you can consult Emily Tarleton , MS, RD,LD (847-4730).


Last modified September 12 2008 01:31 PM

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