National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

Measuring Guides for the Dietary Recall Interview

The nutritional assessment component of the current NHANES includes a 24-hour dietary recall interview for participants of all ages. Dietary recall interviews are conducted in person by trained dietary interviewers fluent in Spanish and English. The setting of the interview is a private room in the Mobile Examination Center (MEC). Each MEC dietary interview room contains a standard set of measuring guides. These tools are used to help the respondent report the volume and dimensions of the food items consumed. They are not intended to represent any one particular food, but rather are designed to help respondents estimate portion sizes. This set of measuring guides is designed specifically for use in the current NHANES setting with a target population of non-institutionalized U.S. civilians. Whereas the tools are helpful in portion size estimation for a wide variety of foods, culturally sensitive precautions are warranted when applying these guides to other populations.

In order to obtain a more complete picture of the usual dietary intake of the U.S. population, a second dietary interview for all participants who complete the in-person recall was added to the survey in 2002. The second dietary recall is collected by telephone and is scheduled 3 to 10 days later. Upon completion of the in-person interview, participants are given measuring cups, spoons, a ruler, and a food model booklet, which contain two-dimensional drawings of the various measuring guides available in the MEC, to use for reporting food amounts during the telephone interview.

Please select an option below for more detailed information on the measuring guides used in the survey.

Page last reviewed: November 6, 2015