Objectives: To develop a concise, simple tool for use by non-specialists to assess diet in children aged 3-7 years attending primary schools.
Design: A 24-hour food tick list covering all aspects of the diet and with a focus on fruit and vegetable consumption was developed. This was compared against a 24-hour semi-weighed food diary obtained for the same day as the tick list.
Setting: Six primary schools with a range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds from a large city in the north of England (Leeds).
Participants: One hundred and eighty children returned completed packs of information; a response rate of 77% of those who were willing to take part, 48% of those approached.
Results: On average, 2.4 items of fruit including juice (2.1 items as 5-a-day count) were eaten and 1.6 items of vegetables (excluding potato). Twenty-seven per cent and 36% of boys and 23% and 24% of girls reported not eating any fruit or vegetables, respectively, on the recording day. Correlations comparing the diary and tick list were high for both foods (range r=0.44 to 0.89) and nutrients (range r=0.41 to 0.68). The level of misclassification was much less than would be expected by chance. Parent and teacher evaluation of the tick list was very positive. Parents felt the tick list was easy and quick to complete.
Conclusion: The Child and Diet Evaluation Tool (CADET) tick list has been used successfully for rapid collection of food and nutrient information from children aged 3-7 years from diverse social and ethnic backgrounds. The tool has performed better than many food-frequency questionnaires in comparison to a food diary.