Project:


Portion size assessment tools for use with children - Further development & validation

From July 2007 to March 2010
Project Leader(s): Dr Emma Foster PI, Prof. Ashley Adamson,
Staff: John Lloyd, Lindsay Marshall, Elaine Stamp
Contact: emma.foster@ncl.ac.uk
Sponsors: Food Standards Agency

Overview of project:

In order to turn reported food intake into nutrient intake a measure or estimate of the portion size of each food consumed is required. As an alternative to weighing all foods, tools are available to assist subjects with providing an estimate of the amount eaten. These include food photographs, food models and food replicas. Although validated portion size assessment tools existed for use with adults no such tool existed for use with children.

This project was a follow on to a pilot study which was also funded by the Food Standards Agency. The study developed and pilot tested 3 portion size assessment tools for use with children. The tools were food photographs, food models and an interactive computer based portion size assessment system (IPSAS). The prototype tools covered 23 foods commonly consumed by this age group. The accuracy and precision of estimates made using the food models were found to be poor. The accuracy and precision of estimates made using the food photographs and IPSAS were found to be acceptable.

The tools have been extended to cover a much wider range of foods and their application in assessing total food intake in a free living situation was assessed. 300 children between the ages of 1½ to 16 years were recruited to take part in the study. Parents were asked to keep a 4-day weighed record of their child’s food intake. The research team recorded and weighed any foods consumed at school. Both parents and children (of primary school age and older) were interviewed and asked to estimate the amount of food consumed using the food photographs and IPSAS. Analysis was then conducted to determine the accuracy and precision of estimates of food portion size using these tools. The study also served to inform on the age at which children become more accurate than their parents in reporting the portion size of foods consumed outside of the home.

The study resulted in the development of two portion size assessment tools for use with children that can be used as an alternative to weighing all foods consumed.
 
Three young person's food atlases have now been printed by the Department of Health.  The atlases are intended for use with dietary surveys enabling children, and their parents, to accurately estimate the portion size of foods consumed and are available for pre, primary and secondary school children.

The atlases can be ordered ‘free of charge’ from the Department of Health, either online, at www.orderline.dh.gov.uk/ecom_dh/public/home.jsf (type 'atlas' into ‘keywords’), or alternatively by telephone on 0300 123 1002.

Staff

Professor Ashley Adamson
Prof of Public Health Nutrition and NIHR Research Professor

Dr Emma Foster
Lecturer

Publications