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Br J Nutr. 2008 Jan;99(1):175-84. Epub 2007 Aug 15.

Children's estimates of food portion size: the development and evaluation of three portion size assessment tools for use with children.

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  • 1Human Nutrition Research Centre, School of Clinical Medical Sciences, Newcastle University, Room M1151, 1st Floor, William Leech Building, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4HH, UK.


A number of methods have been developed to assist subjects in providing an estimate of portion size but their application in improving portion size estimation by children has not been investigated systematically. The aim was to develop portion size assessment tools for use with children and to assess the accuracy of children's estimates of portion size using the tools. The tools were food photographs, food models and an interactive portion size assessment system (IPSAS). Children (n 201), aged 4-16 years, were supplied with known quantities of food to eat, in school. Food leftovers were weighed. Children estimated the amount of each food using each tool, 24 h after consuming the food. The age-specific portion sizes represented were based on portion sizes consumed by children in a national survey. Significant differences were found between the accuracy of estimates using the three tools. Children of all ages performed well using the IPSAS and food photographs. The accuracy and precision of estimates made using the food models were poor. For all tools, estimates of the amount of food served were more accurate than estimates of the amount consumed. Issues relating to reporting of foods left over which impact on estimates of the amounts of foods actually consumed require further study. The IPSAS has shown potential for assessment of dietary intake with children. Before practical application in assessment of dietary intake of children the tool would need to be expanded to cover a wider range of foods and to be validated in a 'real-life' situation.

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