The validity of self-reported fruit and vegetable intake in minority populations has not been adequately established. In this study, the authors examined the association of three food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) and 24-hour dietary recalls with serum carotenoid levels. Approximately 1,000 African-American adults recruited from 15 churches in Atlanta, Georgia (1997-1998) completed three fruit and vegetable FFQs: a seven-item instrument assessing intake during the past month; a two-item measure assessing usual intake; and a 36-item measure adapted from the Health Habits and History Questionnaire. A total of 414 participants received a 24-hour recall by telephone, and 105 of them received two additional recalls. Serum levels of lycopene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, α-carotene, and β-carotene were assessed in 813 participants and used as the validity criterion. The correlations of fruit and vegetable servings with specific and total serum carotenoid levels were generally higher for the 36-item FFQ than for the two-item and seven-item instruments. The strongest correlation of fruit and vegetable servings with total carotenoid levels was observed for the three recalls (r = 0.42), with the 36-item FFQ and the single 24-hour recall yielding comparable correlations (r = 0.35 and r = 0.37, respectively). The validity of the 36-item fruit and vegetable FFQ was generally as strong as the validity of both 1 and 3 days of recalls. Given the lower cost and time needed for administration relative to recalls, it appears that the 36-item FFQ has merit for evaluating fruit and vegetable health interventions.
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