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Estimating dietary costs of low-income women in California: a comparison of 2 approaches.

  • Author(s): Aaron, Grant J;
  • Keim, Nancy L;
  • Drewnowski, Adam;
  • Townsend, Marilyn S
  • et al.


Currently, no simplified approach to estimating food costs exists for a large, nationally representative sample.


The objective was to compare 2 approaches for estimating individual daily diet costs in a population of low-income women in California.


Cost estimates based on time-intensive method 1 (three 24-h recalls and associated food prices on receipts) were compared with estimates made by using less intensive method 2 [a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and store prices]. Low-income participants (n = 121) of USDA nutrition programs were recruited. Mean daily diet costs, both unadjusted and adjusted for energy, were compared by using Pearson correlation coefficients and the Bland-Altman 95% limits of agreement between methods.


Energy and nutrient intakes derived by the 2 methods were comparable; where differences occurred, the FFQ (method 2) provided higher nutrient values than did the 24-h recall (method 1). The crude daily diet cost was $6.32 by the 24-h recall method and $5.93 by the FFQ method (P = 0.221). The energy-adjusted diet cost was $6.65 by the 24-h recall method and $5.98 by the FFQ method (P < 0.001).


Although the agreement between methods was weaker than expected, both approaches may be useful. Additional research is needed to further refine a large national survey approach (method 2) to estimate daily dietary costs with the use of this minimal time-intensive method for the participant and moderate time-intensive method for the researcher.

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