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J Hum Nutr Diet. 2014 Jan;27 Suppl 1:5-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2012.01258.x. Epub 2012 May 18.

How to engage children in self-administered dietary assessment programmes.

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Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USABaylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.


Effectively assessing children's dietary intake is essential for understanding the complex relationships among dietary behaviours and obesity. Dietary assessment accuracy decreases when children are unable or unmotivated to complete accurate self-reports. Technology-based assessment instruments for children's self-report of diet can be enhanced in light of developments in media psychology and communication science. To motivate children to complete a dietary assessment, researchers could use animated, customisable agents; embed the assessment process into a video game; or add narratives to encourage self-reporting behaviour. To improve accuracy, the intake environment could be recreated virtually; training sessions could be interspersed to improve portion estimation; and implicit attitudinal measures could be incorporated as a control or to increase validity. Research is needed to evaluate possible methods of enhancing children's self-reporting motivation and accuracy. The main challenge remains how to engage children without biasing their reporting.


accuracy; children; communication; dietary assessment; media psychology; motivation; technology-based dietary assessment

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