Objective: This exploratory study assessed how 8-13-year-old children categorised and labelled fruit and vegetables (FaV), and how these were influenced by child characteristics, to specify second-level categories in a hierarchical food search system for a computerised 24 h dietary recall (hdr).
Design: Two sets of food cards, sixty-seven for fruit (F) and sixty-four for vegetables (V), with pictures and names of FaV from ten professionally defined food categories were sorted, separately, by each child into piles of similar foods. Demographic data, BMI and 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) taster status were obtained.
Setting: Participants attended the Children's Nutrition Research Center in the summer of 2006.
Subjects: In all, 152 8-13-year-old children, predominantly English-speaking, of whom sixteen were predominantly Spanish-speaking.
Results: Children created an average of 8.5 (5.3) piles with 7.9 (11.4) cards per pile for the F, and an average of 10.1 (4.8) piles with 6.2 (7.9) cards per pile for the V. No substantial differences in Robinson clustering were detected across subcategories for each of the demographic characteristics, BMI or PROP sensitivity. Children provided clusters names that were mostly 'Taxonomic - Professional' labels, such as salads, berries, peppers, for both F (51.8 %) and V (52.1 %).
Conclusions: These categories should be tested to assess their ability to facilitate search of FaV items in a computerised 24 hdr for children in this age group.