Collection of dietary data; food records

In our studies, we assess the dietary intake of nutrients and energy by using food records. They are usually collected for four consecutive days, starting from Sunday. One of our qualified nutritionists gives instructions needed as well as checks the completed food records with the study subject. The task of study subjects is to keep an accurate diary on everything they eat or drink during the follow-up time. The portions of different foods consumed are evaluated on a basis of a book with photos of food-portion examples, and marked to the food record diary by each subject. This book contains 126 example photos of different portions of various foods and drinks. The sizes of portions are not marked in the book on gram-basis, but with letters, that the subjects use for making notes in the food record diary. Below you can see an example from the food portion photo book.











The use of food portion book aims at recording the data accurately. If the subjects were making notes on the food portions after weighing the foods, this might affect the portion size consumed or recorded. The book has been developed by National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland. If needed, the subjects are also allowed to mark the portions consumed in grams or generally known dosages (sugar cube etc.). When coding the food records, nutritionists translate the letters corresponding to different-sized food portions into grams.

We have collected 4-day food records in almost all of our studies. Most of these are presented in this table.

Nutrica®- nutrient calculation software

In our recent studies intakes of nutrients are calculated using NUTRICA version 2.5 software, which is compiled using mainly Finnish values of nutrient composition of foods. The software takes into account food preparation losses of vitamins. More than half of the values are based on recent data analyzed and published in Finland. Other data sources include Swedish, Danish, German, English and American food composition tables. The nutrient compositions of foods in NUTRICA software version 2.5 have been analysed mainly in 1990's and it contains the latest data of vitamin contents of fruits and vegetables.

NUTRICA contains a comprehensive database over data for 1100 food items and dishes and 30 nutrients. We have also added food composition data of 16 nutrients to this software. NUTRICA is developed at the Research Centre of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

Commercial version of NUTRICA software converts amounts of foods reported to grams and calculates following nutrients and food groups

Nutrients and food groups in PDF

In September 2003 we have calculated 80 different nutrients and 100 different foods from food record data. Currently we are augmenting the databases of phenolic compounds in order to study the role of these compounds in CVD, cancer, depression and other diseases. In addition we are studying the role of the foodstuffs rich in phenolic compounds such as tea and coffee in these diseases.

Analysis methods for phenolic compounds in foods makes it possible to produce new data into our database. The analyses of the selected foods are ongoing and in the future we'll see if that data will provide us a new point of view to the intake of phenolic compounds.

Nutrica enables us to calculate thousands of food records simultaneously. It is widely in use in hospital nutritionists and it's also used in many other Finnish epidemiologic studies or clinical trials like Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project (STRIP) trial and the Finnish Twin Cohort. Nutrica has been validated by Hakala et al (1996).

More information:

Voutilainen S, Rissanen T, Virtanen J, Lakka TA, Salonen JTS: Low folate intakes are associated with an excess risk of acute coronary events: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Circulation 2001;103:2674-2680.

Mursu J, et al.: Glycemic Index, Glycemic Load, and the Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction in Middle-Aged Finnish Men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk factor Study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis 2011;21:144-9.

Jaakko Mursu et al: Flavonoid intake and the risk of ischaemic stroke and CVD mortality in middle-aged Finnish men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Br J Nutr 2008;100:890-5.

Jaakko Mursu et al: Intake of flavonoids and risk of cancer in Finnish men: The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. Int J Cancer 2008;123:660-3.

Hakala P, Marniemi J, Knuts L-R, Kumpulainen J, Tahvonen R, Plaami S: Calculated vs. analysed nutrient composition of weight reduction diets. Food Chem 1996;57:71 75.

Hakala P, Knuts LR, Vuorinen A, Hammar N, Becker W: Comparison of nutrient intake data calculated on the basis of two different databases. Results and experiences from a Swedish-Finnish study. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:1035-44.