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Nutr J. 2018 Feb 24;17(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s12937-018-0341-2.

Utility of eButton images for identifying food preparation behaviors and meal-related tasks in adolescents.

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Department of Pediatrics Research, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, USA.
USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA.
Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburg, Pittsburg, USA.



Food preparation skills may encourage healthy eating. Traditional assessment of child food preparation employs self- or parent proxy-reporting methods, which are prone to error. The eButton is a wearable all-day camera that has promise as an objective, passive method for measuring child food preparation practices.


This paper explores the feasibility of the eButton to reliably capture home food preparation behaviors and practices in a sample of pre- and early adolescents (ages 9 to 13).


This is a secondary analysis of two eButton pilot projects evaluating the dietary intake of pre- and early adolescents in or around Houston, Texas. Food preparation behaviors were coded into seven major categories including: browsing, altering food/adding seasoning, food media, meal related tasks, prep work, cooking and observing. Inter-coder reliability was measured using Cohen's kappa and percent agreement.


Analysis was completed on data for 31 participants. The most common activity was browsing in the pantry or fridge. Few participants demonstrated any food preparation work beyond unwrapping of food packages and combining two or more ingredients; actual cutting or measuring of foods were rare.


Although previous research suggests children who "help" prepare meals may obtain some dietary benefit, accurate assessment tools of food preparation behavior are lacking. The eButton offers a feasible approach to food preparation behavior measurement among pre- and early adolescents. Follow up research exploring the validity of this method in a larger sample, and comparisons between cooking behavior and dietary intake are needed.


Adolescents; All-day imaging; Cooking; Food preparation; Nutritional assessment

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