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Within-Person Variation in Nutrient Intakes across Populations and Settings: Implications for the Use of External Estimates in Modeling Usual Nutrient Intake Distributions.

  • Author(s): French, Caitlin D
  • Arsenault, Joanne E
  • Arnold, Charles D
  • Haile, Demewoz
  • Luo, Hanqi
  • Dodd, Kevin W
  • Vosti, Stephen A
  • Slupsky, Carolyn M
  • Engle-Stone, Reina
  • Variance Components of Nutrient Intakes Data Working Group
  • et al.

Determining the proportion of a population at risk of inadequate or excessive nutrient intake is a crucial step in planning and managing nutrition intervention programs. Multiple days of 24-h dietary intake data per subject allow for adjustment of modeled usual nutrient intake distributions for the proportion of total variance in intake attributable to within-individual variation (WIV:total). When only single-day dietary data are available, an external adjustment factor can be used; however, WIV:total may vary by population, and use of incorrect WIV:total ratios may influence the accuracy of prevalence estimates and subsequent program impacts. WIV:total values were compiled from publications and from reanalyses of existing datasets to describe variation in WIV:total across populations and settings. The potential impact of variation in external WIV:total on estimates of prevalence of inadequacy was assessed through simulation analyses using the National Cancer Institute 1-d method. WIV:total values were extracted from 40 publications from 24 countries, and additional values were calculated from 15 datasets from 12 nations. Wide variation in WIV:total (from 0.02 to 1.00) was observed in publications and reanalyses. Few patterns by population characteristics were apparent, but WIV:total varied by age in children (< vs. >1 y) and between rural and urban settings. Simulation analyses indicated that estimates of the prevalence of inadequate intake are sensitive to the selected ratio in some cases. Selection of an external WIV:total estimate should consider comparability between the reference and primary studies with regard to population characteristics, study design, and statistical methods. Given wide variation in observed ratios with few discernible patterns, the collection of ≥2 days of intake data in at least a representative subsample in population dietary studies is strongly encouraged. In the case of single-day dietary studies, sensitivity analyses are recommended to determine the robustness of prevalence estimates to changes in the variance ratio.

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