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About The Diet Assessment Center

The Diet Assessment Center (DAC) was developed in 1990 to support the diet assessment needs of two large NIH-funded nutrition intervention studies. Methodologies were developed to collect dietary data using a computer-assisted telephone system enhanced by the use of the Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR), a software program developed by the Nutrition Coordinating Center at the University of Minnesota.  These studies provided the DAC the expertise for conducting telephone dietary recalls and other types of data collection through collaborative research projects.

Since 1990, the DAC has conducted over 75,000 24-hour dietary recalls.  In addition, the DAC has provided research support for studies involving the collection and analysis of food records, the development, validation and collection of food frequency questionnaires and the collection of a variety of other types of telephone or self administered questionnaires including physical activity, functional status and health history.

The DAC consists of over 1200 sq ft. of space with a telephone interview facility and staff, faculty and graduate student office space.  The large interview facility is sufficient for large-scale dietary data collection with the capacity to conduct 300-500 dietary interviews per month.

Research projects include those funded though grants within the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State as well as grants and contracts with other researchers at other universities, non-profit institutions, private foundations, and the food industry. 

DAC research has included studies examining accuracy and sources of error in diet recall, and comparing different diet assessment methodologies within the same population.   Many studies have had a focus on the assessment of dietary patterns and comparisons of food patterns with various dietary recommendations such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and the Healthy Eating Index or evaluations of dietary interventions.  Many studies have expanded on our expertise in developing other assessment instruments including a population-specific food frequency questionnaire and a diet quality screener.