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Am J Public Health. 1990 Nov;80(11):1314-7.

Validation of mothers' reports of dietary intake by four to seven year-old children.

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  • 1Center for Health Promotion, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027.


The validity of mothers' recall of four to seven year-old children's diet was assessed among 46 first generation Latino immigrant families from the Dominican Republic by comparing intake recalled by the mother to unobtrusive home observations of children. Correlations were moderate to high for calories and for most nutrients. There were no differences in mean intake of total calories or in intake of most macronutrients and micronutrients assessed. At least two-thirds of the children in the lowest (or highest) quintile based on home observations were correctly classified into the lowest or second lowest (or highest) quintiles based on mother's reports for calories and most nutrients. For all food items that were both observed and reported, 51 percent of reported portion sizes were equivalent to observed portion sizes, 15.5 percent were smaller, and 33.5 percent were larger. There was fair to good agreement on the number of food items eaten, with the exception of vegetables. Mothers' recall appears to be useful for classifying children by intake of calories, macronutrients and micronutrients, but provides a somewhat less accurate measure of actual foods eaten, portion sizes, and nutrient levels consumed.

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