The food intake recording software system is valid among fourth-grade children

J Am Diet Assoc. 2002 Mar;102(3):380-5. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8223(02)90088-x.


Objectives: To assess the validity of the Food Intake Recording Software System (FIRSSt) against observation of school lunch and a 24-hour dietary recall (24hDR); and to test the effects of sequencing, observation and a hair sample as a bogus pipeline on accuracy of dietary report.

Design: Six-group design systematically varying sequence of self-report (FIRSSt vs 24hDR), observation of school lunch and hair sample as a bogus pipeline manipulation, with random assignment of participants.

Subjects/setting: 138 fourth-grade students in 2 elementary schools.

Main outcome measures: Accuracy of reported food consumption was measured in terms of matches, intrusions, and omissions among the FIRSSt, 24hDR, and as observed at school lunch. Students also completed self-report of performance with FIRSSt.

Statistical analysis performed: t tests, Pearson correlations, analysis of variance, factor analysis.

Results: When compared with school lunch observation for one meal, FIRSSt attained 46% match, 24% intrusion and 30% omission rates, while a dietitian-conducted 24hDR obtained 59% match, 17% intrusion, and 24% omission rates. FIRSSt attained 60% match, 15% intrusion, and 24% omission rates against 24hDR for all meals in the previous day. There was no evidence of sequence of assessment affecting accuracy indicators, but there was a weak effect of school lunch observation on percent intrusions. Obtaining a hair sample reduced the omission rate for FIRSSt vs 24hDR and increased the match rate for 24hDR vs observation, thereby enhancing this as a bogus pipeline procedure. Children generally enjoyed completing FIRSSt. Hispanic children were more likely to report problems using FIRSSt.

Applications/conclusions: FIRSSt is somewhat less accurate than a dietitian-conducted 24hDR. However, this lower-cost procedure provides a promising method for assessing diet among children. Observation of consumption at school lunch may be reactive and artificially increase agreement. Obtaining a hair sample as a bogus pipeline may be a valuable technique for enhancing the accuracy of dietary assessment among children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Diet Surveys
  • Eating* / physiology
  • Eating* / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Services
  • Hair
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Placebos
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Schools
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Software Validation*


  • Placebos