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Appetite. 2018 Apr 1;123:352-356. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2018.01.010. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Assessment of test-retest reliability of a food choice task among healthy individuals.

Author information

New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address:
New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.
Department of Biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA; Division of Biostatistics, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA.
Division of Biostatistics, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA.
Psychology Department and Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.


Aberrations in eating patterns constitute a substantial public health burden. Computer-based paradigms that measure responses to images of foods are potentially useful tools for assessing food attitudes and characteristics of eating behavior. In particular, food choice tasks attempt to directly probe aspects of individuals' decisions about what to eat. In the Food Choice Task participants rate the healthiness and tastiness of a variety of food items presented one at a time. Next, participants choose for each food item whether they prefer to eat the item vs. a neutrally rated reference food item. The goal of the current study was to assess the stability and reliability of this Food Choice Task over time and with repeated testing. Secondary analyses were conducted using data from healthy volunteers in two separate studies that administered the task at two time points, separated either by several days or about a month. The overall reliability of the Food Choice Task across multiple administrations was assessed using intra-class correlation coefficients and the reliability of ratings of individual food items was assessed using kappa coefficients. The results indicated that test-retest reliability of the Food Choice Task in healthy volunteers was high at both shorter and longer test-retest intervals. In addition, the reliability of individual food item ratings was good for a majority of items. The proportion of healthy volunteers' high-fat food choices did not change over time in either of the two studies. Thus, the Food Choice Task is suitable for measuring food choices in studies with multiple assessment points. In particular, the task may be well suited to assess restrictive eating, a construct which it has been difficult to assess in experimental settings.


Anorexia nervosa; Eating disorders; Food choice; Longitudinal; Obesity; Test-retest reliability

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