Characterisation, procedures and heritability of acute dietary intake in the Twins UK cohort: an observational study

Emily R. Leeming, Olatz Mompeo, Pauline Turk, Ruth C.E. Bowyer, Panayiotis Louca, Abigail J. Johnson, Tim D. Spector, Caroline Le Roy, Rachel Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Estimated food records (EFR) are a common dietary assessment method. This investigation aimed to; (1) define the reporting quality of the EFR, (2) characterise acute dietary intake and eating behaviours, (3) describe diet heritability. Methods: A total of 1974 one-day EFR were collected from 1858 participants in the TwinsUK cohort between 2012 and 2017. EFR were assessed using a six-point scoring system to determine reporting quality. The frequency and co-occurrence of food items was examined using word clouds and co-occurrence networks. The impact of eating behaviours on weight, BMI and nutrient intake were explored using mixed-effect linear regression models. Finally, diet heritability was estimated using ACE modelling. Results: We observed that 75% of EFR are of acceptable reporting quality (score > 5). Black tea and semi-skimmed milk were the most consumed items, on an individual basis (respectively 8.27, 6.25%) and paired (0.21%) as co-occurring items. Breakfast consumption had a significantly (p = 5.99 × 10− 7) greater impact on energy (kcal) (mean 1874.67 (±SD 532.42)) than skipping breakfast (1700.45 (±SD 620.98)), however only length of eating window was significantly associated with body weight (kg) (effect size 0.21 (±SD 0.10), p = 0.05) and BMI (effect size 0.08 (±SD 0.04), p = 0.04) after adjustment for relevant covariates. Lastly, we reported that both length of eating window (h2 = 33%, CI 0.24; 0.41), and breakfast consumption (h2 = 11%, CI 0.02; 0.21) were weakly heritable. Conclusions: EFR describing acute dietary intake allow for eating behaviour characterisation and can supplement habitual diet intake assessments. Novel findings of heritability warrant further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalNutrition Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, European Commission and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) provide core funding and Support for the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology (Twins UK). The research data provided on this paper was specifically funded by the Wellcome trust (079771 and 202786), and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres (BRC). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Diet diary
  • Dietary intake
  • Eating behaviours
  • Food frequency questionnaires
  • Food record
  • Heritability


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