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Underreporting of food intake in overweight children

Comparison of self-reported and measured metabolizable energy intake with total energy expenditure in overweight teens

Singh R, Martin RB, Hickey Y, et al.                                                                                                                Am J Clin Nutr 2009; 89:1744–50

Departments of Foods and Nutrition and Statistics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, in the Department of Nutritional Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison and the School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia.

The prevalence of overweight and obesity as a consequence of an inadequate energy balance has increased dramatically in the past decades. How­ever, especially in young people, no clear association between energy intake and body weight has been ob­served. This might indicate that low energy expenditure contributes to increased overweight and obesity rates, rather than excessive energy intake (Troiano RP; Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 72:1343).

This assumption would imply a reliable and precise assessment of energy intake, which is not always possible. Researchers are increasingly confronted with methodological challenges of dietary assessment. The more complex the study population perceives the dietary assessment method to be, the more actual consumption differs from usual food consumption. For exam­ple by the reduction of food in­take or the omission of certain food items over the study duration (“under­eating”). Relevant reporting errors can also be caused by underestimating portion sizes or by omitting certain food items in the dietary protocols (“underreporting”). The investigation of the extent of such reporting bias is subject to scientific discussions (Livingstone B; J Nutr 2003; 133:895; Trabulsi J; Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2001; 281:E891) and is also the aim of the present publication by Singh and coworkers.

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