of data collection
3- and 7- day food records
Food frequency questionnaire
Feeding skills and development
to evaluate adequacy of intake
do I assess diet?
Several tools are available to aid in diet assessment: recall,
food record, diet history,
food frequency questionnaire. Each tool has strengths
and limitations. Ideally, more than one method is used to assess diet
adequacy. When this is not possible, select the tool best suited to the
In general, the assessment
should address nutrient intake, behavior / relationships / attitudes,
and feeding skills and development.
is a 24-hour recall?
The 24-hour recall is the most commonly used method of obtaining information
about a child’s intake and is useful as a screening tool. Parents/caregivers
are asked to describe the types and amounts of food eaten by the child
in the previous 24 hour period. This may not represent a typical day’s
intake, and thus, the recall may not accurately describe a child’s nutrient
Food models are useful
for estimating portion sizes, but errors are common. Also, parents tend
to forget about (or be unaware of) foods eaten between meals. The 24 hour
recall is helpful during clinic follow-up to measure adherence to dietary
are 3- and 7-day food records?
This method requires parents/caregivers to record all foods offered to
and eaten by their child in a 3 or 7 day period. To provide accurate intake
information, foods should be weighed or measured and methods of food preparation
(e.g., baked, sautéed, steamed) described.
Food models are helpful
in conveying portion sizes to parents, but errors are common. Another
common error is omitting foods that are added to other foods; e.g., butter,
jelly, ketchup. Many parents find it difficult to record their child’s
intake; before using this tool, the clinician should evaluate the parents’
willingness (and ability) to complete the food record.
A 7 day record provides
more representative information than a 3 day food record. If 3 days are
recorded, include one weekend day. It is helpful to review the completed
food record with the caregivers to clarify foods and portion sizes.
is a diet history?
A diet history is a detailed interview with parents or caregivers that
provides information about a child’s feeding history and usual pattern
of food intake. A diet history can be used in combination with a 24 hour
recall, food record, or food frequency questionnaire to obtain a fair
picture of a child’s nutritional intake.
This method of data
collection is time consuming; it will typically require an hour. The interviewer
must gain the confidence of the parent providing information and be able
to evaluate the accuracy and reliability of the answers. When a diet history
is used alone, a child’s intake is often overestimated.
is a food frequency questionnaire?
Of the tools used to assess intake, the food frequency questionnaire uses
the least amount of interview time. Caregivers complete a questionnaire
(usually a checklist) identifying which foods their child eats, as well
as estimating the amount of food eaten in a specified amount of time;
e.g., day, week. This method often overestimates a child’s intake. It
is useful as a screening tool for assessing the dietary intakes of groups
of people. Because it is not time consuming, parents are often more willing
to complete a food frequency questionnaire than a food record.