The Maastricht FFQ: Development and validation of a comprehensive food frequency questionnaire for the Maastricht study

Martien C. J. M. van Dongen, Nicole E. G. Wijckmans-Duysens, Louise J. C. J. den Biggelaar, Marga C. Ocke, Saskia Meijboom, Henny A. M. Brants, Jeanne H. M. de Vries, Edith J. M. Feskens, H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, Anouk Geelen, Coen D. A. Stehouwer, Pieter C. Dagnelie, Simone J. P. M. Eussen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and validate a comprehensive food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) for The Maastricht Study, a population-based prospective cohort study in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Methods: Item selection for the FFQ was based on explained variation and contribution to intake of energy and 24 nutrients. For validation, the FFQ was completed by 135 participants (25-70 y of age) of the Nutrition Questionnaires plus study. Per person, on average 2.8 (range 1-5) telephone-based 24-h dietary recalls (24 HRs), two 24-h urinary samples, and one blood sample were available. Validity of 54 nutrients and 22 food groups was assessed by ranking agreement, correlation coefficients, attenuation factors, and ultimately deattenuated correlation coefficients (validity coefficients).

Results: Median correlation coefficients for energy and macronutrients, micronutrients, and food groups were 0.45, 0.36, and 0.38, respectively. Median deattenuated correlation coefficients were 0.53 for energy and macronutrients, 0.45 for micronutrients, and 0.64 for food groups, being >0.50 for 18 of 22 macronutrients, 16 of 30 micronutrients and >0.50 for 17 of 22 food groups. The FFQ underestimated protein and potassium intake compared with 24-h urinary nitrogen and potassium excretion by 18% and 2%, respectively. Correlation coefficients ranged from 0.50 and 0.55 for (fatty) fish intake and plasma eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, and from 0.26 to 0.42 between fruit and vegetable intake and plasma carotenoids.

Conclusion: Overall, the validity of the 253-item Maastricht FFQ was satisfactory. The comprehensiveness of this FFQ make it well suited for use in The Maastricht Study and similar populations. (C) 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-46
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Food frequency questionnaire
  • Maastricht FFQ
  • Validation
  • Ranking
  • 24-hour recall
  • Biomarkers
  • MEN

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