A dietary assessment is often conducted to determine the macronutrient (energy or caloric, protein, and fat) content and the micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) content of the diet to assist in providing dietary counseling. The validation of dietary assessment instruments is important to evaluate the diet in terms of chronic disease risk factors such as a high fat diet or a diet low in antioxidants and/or fruits and vegetables.
Some of the most common dietary assessment tools that assist in providing dietary counseling include food records, dietary recalls, food frequency questionnaires, diet histories, and several other methods including biochemical indices. A scientific assessment of nutritional status may be made by using a combination of the information collected from clinical evaluations, biochemical tests, and dietary information. The clinical evaluation includes measurements of various anthropometric parameters such as height, weight, and percent body fat (determined by skinfolds or hydrostatic weighing). In addition, a clinical evaluation may also include observations for signs of nutrient deficiencies in the mouth, skin, eyes, and nails. The information collected from a clinical evaluation can be compared with that obtained from the dietary assessment and biochemical tests to provide a comprehensive picture of the patient's current nutritional status and relative risk factors for diet-related illnesses.
Dietary counseling is only effective if the individual is willing to implement the necessary dietary modifications. If patients do not follow the recommended dietary guidance, they will not receive a benefit from counseling. Typically, modest effects seen in weight loss or reduction in serum lipids are often due to failure to comply fully with the dietary recommendations provided.
Crystal Heather Kaczkowski, MSc., The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,