Fisher JO, Johnson RK, Lindquist C, Birch LL, Goran MI. Influence of body composition on the accuracy of reported energy intake in children. Obes Res 2000 Nov;8(8):597-603.


OBJECTIVE: Mis-reporting dietary intake is a substantial barrier to understanding the role of dietary behavior in disease. Work with adults indicates that heavier individuals under-report dietary intake and that under-reporting may be macronutrient-specific. Whether weight status and macronutrient intake influence the accuracy of dietary reports among children, however, is less clear. This research evaluated children's dietary reporting accuracy as a function of their relative weight, body composition, and macronutrient intake. RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES: Participants included 146 4- to 11-year-old children. Reported energy intake was determined by interviewing children in the presence of parents, using three multiple pass, 24-hour recalls. Children were classified as having had an under-reported, accurately reported, or over-reported dietary intake relative to total energy expenditure, as measured by doubly labeled water. Reporting accuracy was examined as a function of children's body weight, body composition (using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), and macronutrient intake. RESULTS: Average reported intake was, on average, 14% greater than children's estimated expenditure (p < 0.01). Reporting accuracy varied as a function of children's relative weight and body composition; under-reporting tended to occur among heavier children, having the highest body fat content (p < 0.0001) and relative weight (p < 0.0001). DISCUSSION: These findings suggest that weight status influences the accuracy of dietary reports made by children and their parents. More research is needed to address possible psychological and social factors that introduce bias in reporting children's dietary data.

Full Text

The full text is available at https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/oby.2000.77

At A Glance

Individual Dietary Behavior Variables

Total Energy/Energy Density
Macronutrients, including Saturated Fat


Individual Dietary Behavior

Measure Type

24-hour dietary recall

Measure Availability

Not reported

Number of Items

Not applicable

Study location


Burlington, VT, USA

Participants also recruited from Birmingham, AL.



Information about Development of Measure

Nothing to add

Study Design

Study Participants


2 - 5 Years

6 - 11 Years






Black/African American

Predominantly Low-income/Low-SES

Not reported

Sample Size


Study Design

Design Type


Health Outcomes Assessed


Obesity Measures

Percent Body Fat

Percent body fat (Densitometry)

Percent body fat (Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry)

weight-for-age percentile z-scores

BMI Measured or Self-reported

Not applicable


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


How Administered


Time Required

Not reported

Training Required

Yes, time not reported

Instructions on Use

Not reported

Data Analysis

Data Collection/Analysis Costs

Not available

Data Collection/Protocol

Not available

Instructions on Data Analysis

Not reported

Validity (0)

There are no validity tests reported for this measure.

Reliability (0)

There are no reliability tests reported for this measure.