Instrument Library

This instrument library provides up-to-date information about instruments designed to assess diet, physical activity and anthropometry in population health sciences. The library aims to describe each instrument, provide links to relevant research, and facilitate access to resources such as processing code which may otherwise be difficult to locate. Information is presented on dedicated pages for each instrument which are accessible using the tables below.

There are 31 instruments in the library

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A dietary assessment instrument used for adults in the Danish National Survey of Diet and Physical Activity. Since 1995, dietary intakes among a representative sample of Danish adults have been assessed using food diaries. Participants report their intake as well as answered predefined and open-ended questions for 7 consecutive days. Serving sizes are estimated using household measures such as glasses, cups, and plates, with aid of a series of pictures. A food diary is "pre-coded", listing commonly consumed dietary items in the order of usual Danish dietary meal patterns, including main meals and snacks. In 2011-2013, 465 foods were pre-coded. In the 2020-2021 web-based version pre-coded up to 1700 foods. The validity of the instrument has been assessed three times since 2000. Overall, the results show that the instrument performs well for ranking participants in terms of intake of foods and nutrients and that total energy intake is underestimated by about 12%.

Developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Minimum Dietary Diversity for Women (MDD-W) is an indicator based on the consumption of 10 food groups and is used for measuring population-level dietary diversity in women of reproductive age. The 10 food groups included in the indicator are: 1. Grains, white roots and tubers, and plantains; 2. Pulses (beans, peas and lentils); 3. Nuts and seeds; 4. Dairy; 5. Meat, poultry and fish; 6. Eggs; 7. Dark green leafy vegetables; 8. Other vitamin A-rich fruits and vegetables; 9. Other vegetables; and 10. Other fruits. Based on this indicator, women who consumed at least 5 of the 10 food groups over the previous 24-hour period are classified as having minimally adequate dietary diversity. MDD-W has been validated for women aged 15-49 years. Respondents are asked to recall the food groups that they consumed over the previous 24-hours using either a list-based method (which asks about consumption of each of the 10 food groups), or an open recall (where respondents recall all foods consumed during the previous day, and the enumerator or interviewer classifies foods consumed into their respective food groups). The enumerator must record whether the respondent did, or did not, consume foods from each of the 10 food groups and then add the total number of food groups consumed. MDD-W may be useful particularly in resource-constrained settings where they can be administered to monitor and evaluate programs that aim to improve dietary diversity. The MDD-W is a simple and easy to interpret tool that can be used for communication especially with non-nutrition audiences.

Intake24 is a self-administered online 24-hour dietary recall tool developed by Newcastle University. Intake24 uses the USDA’s multiple-pass recall method whereby individuals recall everything they consumed over the previous 24-hour period (from when they woke up to when they went to sleep). Individuals first list all the food and drink items they consumed, followed by recording the quantities and further information regarding the foods and drinks recorded. The tool provides instant nutrient intake outputs including energy, macro-nutrients and micro-nutrients. Intake24 is an open-source research tool, freely available to researchers.
The Oxford WebQ questionnaire is a web-based 24 h dietary assessment tool developed for repeated administration in large prospective studies and obtains information on the quantities of up to 206 types of foods and 32 types of drinks consumed over the previous day (Liu et al., Public Health Nutr, 2011). Oxford WebQ questionnaire nutrient calculation has been updated recently following the introduction of the UK Nutrient Databank as its new food composition table (Perez‑Cornago et al., Eur J Nutr, 2021)

The GENEA (Gravity Estimator of Normal Everyday Activity) is a triaxial accelerometer, capable of storing raw measured acceleration values. Raw sampling frequency of 10-80Hz with a range of ± 6 g.

Triaxial accelerometer. MEMS sensor. Raw sampling frequency of between 12.5Hz and 3200Hz with a configurable range of ±2/4/8/16g. The device incorporates a real-time quartz clock, ambient light sensor and temperature sensor. The Axivity AX3 is water resistant up to 1.5 meters.

Triaxial accelerometer. Microelectro-Mechanical-System (MEMS) sensor. Records accelerations with a dynamic range of ±6 g. Data sampling frequency of 30-100Hz, based on higher internal raw sampling frequency. The device also collects ambient light data in Lux at a sampling rate of 1Hz. The GT3X+ weighs 19g and its dimensions are 4.6 x 3.3 x 1.5 cm. The GT3X+ is the successor to the GT3X.

Triaxial accelerometer and ambient light sensor. Microelectro-Mechanical-System (MEMS) sensor. Raw sampling frequency 30Hz. It has the same dimensions as its predecessor, the GT1M (27g; 3.8 × 3.7 × 1.8 cm). The GT3X can be initialised to record data in either GT3X or GT1M modes.
The activPAL3c is a small (35 x 53 x 7mm), light weight electronic device, worn on the anterior mid-line of the right thigh, one third of the way between hip and knee. The activPAL3c uses a tri-axial accelerometer to sense limb position and acceleration, collecting information at a 20 or 100Hz sampling frequency on uni-axial or tri-axial modes. The activPAL™ software is used to classify an individual’s free-living activity into periods spent sitting, standing and walking.

The GENEActiv (Gravity Estimator of Normal Everyday Activity) is a tri-axial accelerometer that samples at frequencies of 10-100Hz with a range of +/-8g. It records raw data in an open format, contains light and temperature sensors and is fully waterproof.

Biaxial accelerometer (original firmware disabled one axis and the device was thus launched as a uniaxial accelerometer). MEMS sensor. Raw sampling frequency 30Hz. Data stored as axis-specific counts over user-defined epoch period. These data are filtered by digital algorithms in firmware to emulate the response of its predecessor, the analogue Actigraph 7164.
Uniaxial accelerometer. Piezo-electric sensor. Raw sampling frequency 10Hz, data stored as counts over user-defined epoch period, typically 60-seconds. When launched, the device was known as the Computer Science and Applications (CSA) accelerometer.
The original 7dDD is an A5 booklet with four pages for each day to record the foods and drinks consumed over seven meal occasions (before breakfast, breakfast, between breakfast and lunch, lunch, between lunch and dinner, dinner and after dinner), based on the diary used in the National Survey of Health and Development (Ref. Prynne et al., Br J Nutr, 2007). For each day, there is a separate area for recipe notation and a checklist of commonly consumed but often forgotten foods. The last four pages in the diary are in the style of a general questionnaire where details regarding the types of milk, bread and spread are recorded to aid data entry in case participants cannot provide enough details in their 7dDD. Participants are asked to write down the type and amount of foods consumed at the time of consumption. Portions may be estimated using household measures (such as teaspoons and mugs) or one of the seventeen colour-print photos of commonly consumed foods/dishes or by recording weights from packaging. The participants are asked to return the diaries to the study centre by post. An electronic data entry, using a smartphone or a tablet, is feasible but has not been implemented as of March 2022.

HAPAQ was designed to collect data regarding total regular PA undertaken from the age of 20 years to their current age. The questionnaire is divided into discrete time periods, starting with the most recent 15 years in three 5-year sections. Following this, questions regarding PA from the age of 20 years until the most recent 15 years are asked in 10-year sections. For each section, an identical set of closed questions are asked about PA in the domains of home, work, transport, sport (defined as strenuous sporting activities which make you breathless or cause noticeable sweating) and exercise (defined as less strenuous leisure activities). The nature, duration and frequency of regular activities recalled by the participant for each time period were recorded. The questionnaire was designed in an electronic format to aid delivery and data management and it is delivered through face-to-face interviews.

The short EPIC-PAQ was originally designed for implementation in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer study.

The short EPIC-PAQ is a physical activity self-report instrument consisting of four questions. The four EPIC physical activity questions refer to activity during the past year. The first question is a four-point, mutually exclusive, ordered category concerning physical activity at work. The second question asks about the amount of time spent in hours per week for summer and winter separately in each of the following activities: walking, cycling, gardening, do-it-yourself, physical exercise and housework. The third question asks whether any of the activities in question 2 were engaged in such that it caused sweating or faster heartbeat and, if so, for how many hours during a typical week. The fourth question asks about stair climbing. As occupational activity and recreational activity are both likely to be relevant to total energy expenditure, a simple 4-category physical activity index, the so-called Cambridge index, was devised based on these components, to allocate individuals to ordered categories of overall activity.

The EPAQ2 is a self-reported questionnaire that collects past year information on physical activity in a disaggregated way (by behaviour type and domain) such that the information may be re-aggregated according the dimension of physical activity of interest. It is longer than the original EPIC PAQ, known as "short EPIC", and EPAQ2 is therefore sometimes called "long EPAQ". The questionnaire consists of three domains: activity at home, work and recreation. Questions are closed rather than open-ended. It was originally designed as a comprehensive physical activity questionnaire for implementation in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Study - Norfolk cohort.

IPAQ was developed for surveillance purposes and to guide policy development related to health-enhancing physical activity across various life domains. There are two versions of the questionnaire. The short version collects physical behaviour information aggregated across domains and is designed for use in national and regional surveillance systems. The long version provides more detailed information by asking those same questions by domain; occupation, transport and leisure time. The long version may be more suited for evaluation purposes where for example one domain may be targeted.

FFQ originally developed in 1988 (Bingham et al., Br J Nutr, 1994) and updated over years along with the development of links to food composition tables (CAFE and FETA) (Welch et al., J Hum Nutr Diet, 2005; Mulligan et al., BMJ Open, 2014)

Actiheart is a single-piece combined heart rate and uniaxial acceleration monitor that is worn on the chest using two standard ECG electrodes. It has three recording modes; 1) raw waveform mode, 2) inter-beat-interval logging mode, and 3) long-term recording mode of average heart rate and movement in epochs. Raw sampling rates are 128Hz for the ECG signal and 32 Hz for the acceleration signal. There are two official versions of the uniaxial monitor, the original Actiheart and Actiheart 4; these are largely identical in terms of weight (<10g) and physical dimensions. Actiheart 4 has four times higher memory capacity and can collect 15-sec epoch data for 11 days in long-term mode; its capacity is about 4 days when using inter-beat-interval logging (with 15-sec accelerometry data).

Polar heart rate monitor using a chest strap and radio transmission of heart rate data to wrist watch. Capable of minute-by-minute monitoring of heart rate for 4 days.
DLW is a method for measuring carbon dioxide production during free-living using stable isotopes (deuterium or Hydrogen-2 and Oxygen-18). It requires mass spectrometry instruments for measuring the enrichment of these isotopes in the collected biological samples (either saliva, urine, or blood). Oxygen-18 enrichment: AP2003, Analytical Precision Ltd, Northwich, Cheshire, UK; Deuterium enrichment: Isoprime, GV Instruments, Wythenshaw, Manchester, UK or Sercon ABCA-Hydra 20–22, Sercon Ltd, Crewe, UK.
The Global Physical Activity Questionnaire was developed by WHO for physical activity surveillance in countries. It collects information on physical activity participation in three settings (or domains) as well as sedentary behaviour, comprising 16 questions (P1-P16). The domains are: Activity at work, Travel to and from places, and Recreational activities.
The YPAQ lists 47 different activities with participants requested to self-report the frequency and duration of each activity for both week and weekend days over the past 7 d. Therefore, the YPAQ assesses mode, frequency, and duration of physical activity and sedentary activities throughout all domains, including school time and leisure time over the past 7 d. The CPAQ is very similar to the YPAQ but parentally reported and includes activities specific to young children, such as ‘‘playing in a playhouse.’’ The CPAQ assesses mode, frequency, and duration of physical activity and sedentary activities throughout all domains over the past 7 d.
The SIT-Q-7d is a self-administered questionnaire that quantifies time spent sedentary in the last 7 days, as well as sleeping/napping time, in adults. Sedentary time (“sitting or lying down”) is assessed across five different domains covering adults’ daily life activities. These include, in this order, 1) meals (sum of breakfast, lunch, and dinner), 2) transportation (sum of to and from occupation, as part of occupation and getting about apart from occupation), 3) occupation (i.e., work, study, and volunteering, sum of two main occupations), 4) leisure screen time (sum of watching TV/DVDs/videos, using computer apart from work, and playing sedentary computer games), and 5) time spent sedentary in other activities (sum of reading, household tasks, caring for children, grandchildren, elderly, or disabled relatives, hobbies, socializing, listening to music, and other activities). The questionnaire enables calculation of domain-specific and total sedentary time. Questions on sleeping/napping, meals, nonoccupational transportation, screen time, and other sedentary activities are queried for weekdays and weekend days separately to account for week and weekend differences. The number of interruptions in sedentary time (standing up or walking somewhere) in occupational and TV viewing sedentary time is also assessed.

This questionnaire is designed to measure physical activity during everyday life in the last 4 weeks. The questionnaire is divided into 3 sections:

Section A asks about physical activity in and around the house. 

Section B is about travel to work and activity at work. 

Section C asks about recreational activities.

The Discovery is a Hologic DEXA system which can be used for whole body scans. Hologic DEXA systems generates two low energy X-rays and is classed as a fan beam. It measures the attenuation of the two X-rays as they pass through the body tissues. Different tissues absorb these x rays in different manners and it therefore distinguishes bone mass from soft tissue and within the soft tissue fat mass and lean mass. The manufactures APEX software provide estimates of fat, bone mineral content and lean mass in the total body and in specifically defined regions. The APEX InnerCore software feature can produce estimates of visceral adipose tissue (mass and volume) within the android region. The measurement field is 197 cm x 65 cm for whole body scans with a maximum patient weight 204 kg and a exposure of 12 µGy.
The Lunar PRODIGY Advance is a GE healthcare DEXA system which can be used for whole body scans. GE healthcare DEXA systems uses a K-edge filter that absorbs the X-rays in the middle energy range creating two low energy X-rays and classes the Lunar iDEXA as a narrow-angle fan beam. It measures the attenuation of the two X-rays as they pass through body tissues. Different tissues absorb these x rays in different manners and it therefore distinguishes bone mass from soft tissue and within the soft tissue fat mass and lean mass. The manufactures enCORE software provide estimates of fat, bone mineral content and lean mass in the total body and in specifically defined regions. The enCORE corescan software feature can produce estimates of visceral adipose tissue (mass and volume) within the android region. The measurement field is 197.5 cm x 60 cm for whole body scans with a maximum patient weight 159 kg and a exposure of 0.4 - 0.8 µGy.
The Lunar iDEXA is a GE healthcare DEXA system which can be used for whole body scans and has been designed to accommodate larger individuals than the GE Lunar Prodigy. GE healthcare DEXA systems uses a K-edge filter that absorbs the X-rays in the middle energy range creating two low energy X-rays and classes the Lunar iDEXA as a narrow-angle fan beam. It measures the attenuation of the two X-rays as they pass through body tissues. Different tissues absorb these x rays in different manners and it therefore distinguishes bone mass from soft tissue and within the soft tissue fat mass and lean mass. The manufactures enCORE software provides estimates of bone mineral content, fat and lean mass for the total body and specifically defined regions. The enCORE corescan software feature can produce estimates of visceral adipose tissue (mass and volume) within the android region. The measurement field is 197.5 cm x 66 cm for whole body scans with a maximum patient weight 204kg and a exposure of 3 to 6 µGy.
Derived and validated anthropometry-based equations for infant FM and FFM using simple parameters often measured in infant studies (sex, age, weight, length and skinfolds measurements from flank, subscapular and triceps). These equations appeared to be more robust in predicting infant FM and FFM when compared to other published childhood equations despite the presence of proportional bias. These equations are fit for use in longitudinal infant cohorts or trials, when reference methods, such as ADP-PEA Pod, are not feasible.

Developed and validated BIA equations to predict total and regional body composition parameters for fat mass (FM) and lean mass (LM) from anthropometry and single‐frequency (50 kHz) segmental BIA, using Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) as the criterion method.