Background: Dietary assessment among children is particularly problematic when techniques are dependent on memory skills or advanced cognitive development.
Objective: The current study explored the use of self-report by tape recorders to document children's dietary intake immediately upon consumption, and compared this method with the traditional, interviewer-guided recall technique. In addition, the influence of body fatness and sociodemographic characteristics on the accuracy of recall and tape-recorded food records was determined.
Research methods and procedures: The sample included 30 black and white children aged 6.5 to 11.6 years (x = 9.5). Energy intake (EI), measured by six 24-hour food records (three for each method), was compared with total energy expenditure calculated by the doubly labeled water technique. Paired t tests, correlation analyses, and multiple regression analyses were performed.
Results: The analyses revealed poor validity of the tape recorder method (x misreporting score = -1.13+/-2.62 MJ/day, r for total energy expenditure and EI = -0.06, p = 0.74). Estimates of EI differed significantly between the tape recorder and recall methods (p<0.01). The traditional recall method was confirmed as a valid estimate of energy intake (x misreporting score = 0.04+/-2.38 MJ/day), although demonstrating a modest correlation with TEE (r = 0.32, p = 0.08). Although no significant predictors of misreporting using the recall method were identified in the multivariate analyses, older children and children with higher adiposity were more likely to misreport using the tape recorder method.
Discussion: The results suggest that the use of the tape recorder for estimating EI does not result in accurate assessments among children, although this technique may be useful for specific subgroups (i.e., younger and leaner children).