The online UK Biobank diet questionnaire is now complete. More than 210,000 people took the time to undertake around 450,000 questionnaires. UK Biobank would like to thank all those people who have participated. They have helped to make UK Biobank even more useful to health scientists from around the world.
UK Biobank hopes to roll out other questionnaires in due course. For instance, plans are underway to assess previous occupations in more detail in this way. Repeated questionnaires may also be able to detect evidence of diseases (such as decline in brain function and depression) which are harder to identify through health records.
Diet is one important component of that complex jigsaw that makes us who we are. During their assessment, participants gave UK Biobank a summary of their typical diet – but to understand how food intake varies and to maximise the nutritional information available, it is best to have several ‘snapshots’ from each participant.
The diet questionnaire has been sent out every 3-4 months to get multiple snapshots of the food and drink participants consume. Accurate recording by participants, repeated several times like this, allows UK Biobank to gain a fuller picture of their typical diet than would be obtained by only asking about a ‘typical’ diet, or by inference from just one day.
Combining the dietary information with the analyses of specific nutrients in blood, urine and saliva samples will help further. This will assist scientists to improve their understanding of the link between particular aspects of diet and diseases like particular types of cancer and heart disease.