Diet-related greenhouse gas emissions assessed by a food frequency questionnaire and validated using 7-day weighed food records
Journal article, 2016

Background: The current food system generates about 25 % of total greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), including deforestation, and thereby substantially contributes to the warming of the earth's surface. To understand the association between food and nutrient intake and GHGE, we therefore need valid methods to assess diet-related GHGE in observational studies. Methods: Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies assess the environmental impact of different food items. We linked LCA data expressed as kg carbon dioxide equivalents (CO(2)e) per kg food product to data on food intake assessed by the food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) Meal-Q and validated it against a 7-day weighed food record (WFR). 166 male and female volunteers aged 20-63 years completed Meal-Q and the WFR, and their food intake was linked to LCA data. Results: The mean GHGE assessed with Meal-Q was 3.76 kg CO(2)e per day and person, whereas it was 5.04 kg CO(2)e using the WFR. The energy-adjusted and deattenuated Pearson and Spearman correlation coefficients were 0.68 and 0.70, respectively. Moreover, compared to the WFR, Meal-Q provided a good ranking ability, with 90 % of the participants classified into the same or adjacent quartile according to their daily average CO(2)e. The Bland-Altman plot showed an acceptable level of agreement between the two methods and the reproducibility of Meal-Q was high. Conclusions: This is the first study validating the assessment of diet-related GHGE by a questionnaire. The results suggest that Meal-Q is a useful tool for studying the link between food habits and CO(2)e in future epidemiological studies.

Validation studies

Life cycle assessment

Reproducibility of results

Greenhouse gas emission

Food frequency questionnaire

Sustainable diets


Carbon dioxide equivalents

Climate change

Weighed food record


Camilla Sjörs

Karolinska Institutet

S. E. Raposo

Harvard School of Public Health

Karolinska Institutet

A. Sjolander

Karolinska Institutet

O. Balter

Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)

Stanford University

Fredrik Hedenus

Chalmers, Energy and Environment, Physical Resource Theory

K. Balter

Karolinska Institutet

Stanford University

Environmental Health: A Global Access Science Source

1476-069X (ISSN)

Vol. 15 1 15

Subject Categories

Health Sciences



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