National Cancer Institute
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Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods
Cancer Control and Population Sciences


Short Dietary Assessment Instruments

Short dietary assessment instruments, often called screeners, may be useful in situations that do not require assessment of the total diet or quantitative accuracy in dietary estimates. Recognizing the need for these tools, the Risk Factor Monitoring and Methods Branch (RFMMB) has developed several short instruments that assess intake of fruits and vegetables, percent energy from fat, and/or fiber.

The tools have been evaluated in cross-sectional general population studies, and are being evaluated currently for use in self-selected samples in intervention research. In addition, these tools have been used in large population studies, such as the National Health Information Survey (NHIS) and the California Health Information Survey (CHIS), which had only very limited room for questions on diet.

Estimates of intake from short dietary assessment instruments are not as accurate as those from more detailed methods, such as 24-hour dietary recalls. Short dietary assessment instruments may be most useful for:

  • characterizing a population's median intakes;
  • discriminating among individuals or populations with regard to higher vs. lower intakes;
  • examining interrelationships between diet and other variables; and
  • comparing findings from a smaller study to a larger population study, such as to NHIS or CHIS.

Fruit & Vegetable

Percentage Energy from Fat


Added Sugar



Red Meat/Processed Meat

Last modified:
23 Oct 2008
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