Combining food records with in-depth probing interviews improves quality of dietary intake reporting in a group of South Asian women


Correspondence to: Rozanne Kruger, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition, Institute of Food, Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, Private Bag 102 904, North Shore Mail Centre, Auckland 0745, New Zealand; e-mail:


Objective: To investigate if the addition of an in-depth interview focused on cultural dietary practices could improve the quality of dietary data from food records among South Asian women in New Zealand.

Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from 134 South Asian women (≥20 years), living in Auckland. Dietary data were collected using four-day food records. Nutritional analysis revealed 33.6% under-reporting of energy intakes. All women were recalled for an in-depth probing interview focused on culture-specific foods and dietary practices.

Results: The interview revealed extensive use of dairy products and plant oils. The nutrient content of the food record alone and the food record plus interview were compared; median energy intakes were 6,852 kJ vs 7,246 kJ (p<0.001); under-reporting decreased by 14.2%, and total fat and protein intakes (g/day) increased (p<0.001). Estimates of poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids increased significantly (p<0.001) due to greater use of plant oils due to greater use of plant oils replacing saturated fatty acid-rich fats in food preparation. A significant increase (17%) (p<0.001) in calcium intake reflects the higher dairy intake identified with the interview.

Conclusion: The addition of an in-depth probing interview to a four-day food record enhanced food intake reporting. Self-reported dietary assessments in immigrant population groups require quality control for accuracy.

Implications: Methods to ensure high-quality dietary data are essential to assess health outcomes and to inform public health interventions, especially in immigrant populations.