Baxter SD, Hitchcock DB, Royer JA, Smith AF, Guinn CH. Fourth-grade children's dietary reporting accuracy by meal component: Results from a validation study that manipulated retention interval and prompts. Appetite 2017 Jun 1;113:106-115. Epub 2017 Feb 5.


We examined reporting accuracy by meal component (beverage, bread, breakfast meat, combination entrée, condiment, dessert, entrée, fruit, vegetable) with validation-study data on 455 fourth-grade children (mean age = 9.92 ± 0.41 years) observed eating school meals and randomized to one of eight dietary recall conditions (two retention intervals [short, long] crossed with four prompts [forward, meal-name, open, reverse]). Accuracy category (match [observed and reported], omission [observed but unreported], intrusion [unobserved but reported]) was a polytomous nominal item response variable. We fit a multilevel cumulative logit model with item variables meal component and serving period (breakfast, lunch) and child variables retention interval, prompt and sex. Significant accuracy category predictors were meal component (p < 0.0003), retention interval (p < 0.0003), meal-component × serving-period (p < 0.0003) and meal-component × retention-interval (p = 0.001). The relationship of meal component and accuracy category was much stronger for lunch than breakfast. For lunch, beverages were matches more often, omissions much less often and intrusions more often than expected under independence; fruits and desserts were omissions more often. For the meal-component × retention-interval interaction, for the short retention interval, beverages were intrusions much more often but combination entrées and condiments were intrusions less often; for the long retention interval, beverages were matches more often and omissions less often but fruits were matches less often. Accuracy for each meal component appeared better with the short than long retention interval. For lunch and for the short retention interval, children's reporting was most accurate for entrée and combination entrée meal components, whereas it was least accurate for vegetable and fruit meal components. Results have implications for conclusions of studies and interventions assessed with dietary recalls obtained from children.

Full Text

The full text is available at https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2017.02.005

At A Glance

Individual Dietary Behavior Variables

Food Groups


Individual Dietary Behavior

Measure Type

24-hour dietary recall

Measure Availability

Not reported

Number of Items

Not applicable

Study location

Not Reported

South Carolina, USA



Information about Development of Measure

The accuracy of children’s twenty-four hour dietary recalls (24hDRs) by food group or meal component could have major implications for conclusions concerning the effectiveness of nutrition interventions. Research specifically concerning children’s reporting accuracy by meal component is sparse. Investigating children’s reporting accuracy by meal component for school-meal intake obtained during 24hDRs is the aim of this research.

Study Design

Study Participants


6 - 11 Years







Black/African American

Predominantly Low-income/Low-SES

Not reported

Sample Size


Study Design

Design Type


Health Outcomes Assessed


Obesity Measures

Not reported

BMI Measured or Self-reported

Not reported


Not reported

Data Reported on Race/Ethnicity

Quantitative data on study sample

Data Reported on SES

Not applicable

SES-related Variables

Not applicable

How To Use


Who Administered


Existing data (e.g., GIS, licensing)

How Administered


Time Required

Not reported

Training Required

Not reported

Instructions on Use

Instructions on instrument use included in article

Data Analysis

Data Collection/Analysis Costs

Not reported

Data Collection/Protocol

Students were observed eating two consecutive school-provided meals (breakfast and lunch) on the same day, and then interviewed to obtain a twenty-four hour dietary recall (24hDR) under one of eight conditions constructed by crossing two retention intervals (short; long) with four prompts (forward [distant to recent]; meal-name [breakfast, lunch, etc]; open [no instructions]; and reverse [recent to distant]). A total of four researchers conducted face-to-face audio-recorded interviews in private locations at schools after lunch for the short retention interval, and after breakfast for the long retention interval. A total of three researchers observed school-provided meals. Researchers observed one to three children simultaneously to record items and amounts eaten.

Instructions on Data Analysis

Instructions on analysis included in article

Validity (4)

Type of validity Construct/subscale assessed Criterion measure used Test/statistic used Result
Criterion Twenty-four hour dietary recall (24hDR), food match for serving period: breakfast Direct observation Chi square (X2) X2 = 6.9 for fruit to <0.1 for condiments
Criterion Twenty-four hour dietary recall (24hDR), food match for serving period: lunch Direct observation Chi square (X2) X2 = 13.7 for beverage to 0.3 for bread
Criterion Twenty-four hour dietary recall (24hDR), food match for retention interval: short Direct observation Chi square (X2) X2 = 5.8 for combination entree to <0.1 for bread and condiment
Criterion Twenty-four hour dietary recall (24hDR), food match for retention interval: short Direct observation Chi square (X2) X2 = 12.7 for beverage to 0.1 for combination entree and condiment

Reliability (0)

There are no reliability tests reported for this measure.