Food Frequency Questionnaire

Food Frequency Questionnaire

The FFQ is a highly versatile research tool designed to estimate habitual diet and nutrient intake in large scale epidemiological studies in the UK.

This questionnaire is the product of over 20 years of development and experience. Early versions of the questionnaire were first used in the Scottish Heart Health Study and MONICA study (Smith et al 1987). What was originally a collaboration between Aberdeen, Dundee and Cambridge researchers, has since been utilised in over 80 studies from institutions such as:

  • The University of Edinburgh
  • The University of Leeds
  • The University of Glasgow
  • The University of Warwick
  • University College London
  • Imperial College London
  • Queen’s University Belfast

Who We Are

The University of Aberdeen Dietary Assessment Service is led by researchers with a range of expertise in human nutrition, food composition, biomedical and epidemiological academic research who have a mutual interest in assessing dietary intake in medium to large scale population studies.

For further information on the group members click on links below:

Contact us

If you think the SCG-FFQ would be suitable for your research, you can contact the Diet Survey team at to discuss your requirements. You will be asked to complete a New User form to provide further details.


23rd - 25th May 2017

Advanced Course in Dietary Assessment Methods

This established course is designed for researchers, dietetic and nutritional practitioners and those who would like to further their training in dietary assessment methods.

It has been developed and run by The University of Aberdeen dietary assessment team who are a group with a wide range of experience including staff from the Public Health Nutrition Research Group and the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health. For further information visit the acdam homepage.

Also running in conjunction with ACDAM is the Introductory Course in Dietary Assessment Methods

22nd May 2017

The introductory course is intended for those who have more limited experience in the field of dietary assessment or who may have trained some time ago and wish to refresh their knowledge prior to the advanced course. More information on the acdam homepage.

January 2017

Our FFQs are being employed as part of the PREdiCCT study investigating the influencing factors behind IBD flare. Read more here.

September 2016

A paper assessing the validity of version 6.6 of the FFQ for adults in measuring nutrient intake has been published this month in Public Health Nutrition. You can access it here.

May 2016

The web-based FFQs for children and older adults are now online.

Sep 2013

The web-based data entry form for the adult FFQ is now up and running and being used by several groups.

May 2012

Validation of the adult eFFQ

Results of the validation of the web-based entry form of the questionnaire (eFFQ) were presented at the International Conference on Diet and Activity Methods (ICDAM) in Rome this month. There was good agreement and repeatability compared with the paper form of the questionnaire and users found the system acceptable and usable.


FFQ Administration

How does the online system work?

  • The online administration system allows you to send emails to your participants containing a link to their own specific FFQ. Details are provided on completion dates for the FFQ, additionally there is an option to send reminder emails.

How will participants access the online questionnaires?

  • Participants can click on a link supplied which will take them directly to their specific FFQ.

How long does the FFQ take to complete?

  • The questionnaire takes around 20 to 30 minutes to complete, depending on the participant and their diet.

Will we be able to review participant responses?

  • Yes, this is possible. Individual FFQs can be inspected, but we can also set up completion reports which can allow you to list those FFQs with missing questions. A means of contacting participants for missing information will be in place.

Can we obtain an electronic version of the questionnaire to print ourselves?

  • No, it is important to maintain the quality of the reproduction, particularly of the colour food photo of food measures.


Can we analyse the dietary responses (questionnaires) ourselves?

  • No, the analysis of the FFQs is carried out by the team at the University of Aberdeen.

Which foods and nutrients does the questionnaire measure?

  • The questionnaire estimates the intake of energy and all the macro- and micro-nutrients in the standard UK food composition tables. Intake of other nutrients e.g. fatty acids or flavonoids, and of specific foods or food groups (as grams/day), may be available on request.

Can we get advice on how to statistically analyse the dietary data?

  • We can provide advice on the analysis and the interpretation of results.

What format do we receive the dietary data in?

  • Generally, the data is provided in excel format. If other formats are required (for example, CSV or SPSS) please discuss with the team.

How long does entering the data from the paper FFQ take?

  • When familiar with the data entry package and standard operating procedures for data entry, a trained researcher could enter 5-6 FFQs per hour.

Other Queries

Can the questionnaire be combined with other lifestyle questionnaires e.g. on smoking or physical activity as a larger single questionnaire?

  • We recommend that the FFQ is a stand-alone questionnaire which requires focussed thinking about diet, so we believe it requires completion as a single task. However, we are be able to include additional study specific questionnaires alongside the online FFQ?

Can the questionnaire be used for screening individual participants prior to study?

  • While the questionnaire is not designed for providing absolute intakes of nutrients for individuals, it is possible in some cases to categorise potential participants by levels of intake of specific food groups or nutrients, for example high and low consumers of fruit and vegetables.
  • If you are thinking of using the questionnaire for this purpose, we would be happy to provide further advice.

Can the questionnaire be used to survey ethnic minorities?

  • If you are thinking of using the questionnaire for a specific group of people, we would be happy to provide further advice.

Do we need to submit the FFQ with an application to an ethics committee?

  • We recommend including the FFQ in an application to an ethics committee. We would further suggest that you mention in the application that you may contact participants after completion to obtain any missing data. This will allow you to increase the number of questionnaires you can include in your analysis.

How do we reference the FFQ in a journal article?

  • Please give the FFQ version and website and refer to the most appropriate validation study for your version of the FFQ.

Are there shorter forms of the questionnaire available?

  • No. As the questionnaires listed aim to estimate total daily intake of all foods and nutrients, a comprehensive list of foods is needed. However, we can offer advice and guidance on the development of short questionnaires. Please contact the team for advice.

Can we alter the measurement timeframe for the FFQ?

  • Yes, the default timeframe of 'the past 2-3 months' can be altered e.g. to 'during pregnancy' or 'prior to diagnosis'. This may incur additional charges for printing or altering the online questionnaire as appropriate.

Can the questionnaire be used to estimate snacking or other aspects of eating behaviour?

  • As the questionnaire does not ask about times of eating, it is not possible to determine if a food can be classified as a snack. For example, it could not be determined if a packet of crisps is eaten with or as a part of a meal.
Useful Links

University of Aberdeen

External links

Nutritional advice