Dietary patterns are related to many chronic diseases but assessing it in the population is not an easy task. One method often used is the food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ), which consists of a list of foods typically consumed in the population of interest; therefore it has to be specifically designed for each population and validated to be used.

A culturally adapted FFQ was designed to assess dietary patterns in Puerto Ricans, which was first validated in Puerto Ricans in Boston, M.A. by Dr. Katherine Tucker from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Boston, MA. This FFQ was further modified to include local foods and other foods frequently consumed in Puerto Ricans living in Puerto Rico. Such FFQ was validated by the investigators Dr. Cristina Palacios, Dr. Maria Angelica Trak, Jesmari Betancourt and Dr. Kaumudi Joshipura, from the Medical Sciences Campus of the University of Puerto Rico in collaboration with Dr. Tucker and published in Public Heath Nutrition.

The validation study was conducted in a convenience sample of 92 students, employees and faculty of the University of Puerto Rico, who were mostly young overweight females. Participants completed the FFQ, followed by 6-day food records and 30 days later completed again the FFQ. Results from the 6-day records, considered the Gold standard method for assessing nutrients intake, were compared to results from the FFQs.

For study participants, this FFQ was able to capture the consumption of energy and most nutrients; except for vitamin E, thiamine, trans-fat and omega-3 fatty acids, which were not captured completely by such instrument. Although the intake of nutrients reported in the FFQ was systematically higher when compared to the reference, it was considered by the investigators as a good instrument to rank individuals into high, medium or low intake of the nutrient of interest. Therefore, this instrument could be used by nutritionists, dietitians and other researchers in similar groups to assess nutrients intake and relate it to chronic health conditions. This is particularly important in Puerto Rico, as the prevalence of obesity and diabetes are much higher than in other groups in the US.

This relatively valid and culturally sensitive FFQ may be useful for implementing dietary interventions in similar Puerto Rican populations to better understand and improve diet related health trends.

Read the full paper here until 17th March

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