Measurements of total energy expenditure provide insights into the validity of dietary measurements of energy intake.
Black AE., Prentice AM., Goldberg GR., Jebb SA., Bingham SA., Livingstone MB., Coward WA.
The quantification of errors inherent in methods of measuring dietary intake has been handicapped by the absence of independent markers for testing their validity. The doubly labeled water technique permits a precise measure of energy expenditure in free-living persons. Because energy expenditure must equal energy intake in populations in energy balance, this technique may be used to validate the assessment of energy intake. A series of studies demonstrated good agreement between mean energy intake and mean energy expenditure when food intake was recorded by observers or when it was self-reported by normal-weight, self-selected, highly motivated volunteer subjects using weighed records. However, in randomly recruited men and women, energy intake by weighed records was 82% and 81%, of energy expenditure, respectively, indicating underestimation of habitual intake. Men and women in the lowest third of reported intake recorded energy expenditure of only 69% and 61%, respectively. Reported intake of obese and previously obese women was only 73% and 64% of expenditure, whether measured by weighed record or by diet history, confirming suspicions that these subjects misrepresented their intake. Acceptable weighed records were obtained from 7- and 9-year-olds whereas 15- and 18-year-olds underestimated intake. Diet histories taken from the same children tended to overestimate intake. These studies suggest that, ideally, all dietary studies should include independent measures of validity.