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. 2013 Jun;16(6):1028-36.
doi: 10.1017/S1368980012004211. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Design, Testing and Validation of an Innovative Web-Based Instrument to Evaluate School Meal Quality


Design, Testing and Validation of an Innovative Web-Based Instrument to Evaluate School Meal Quality

Emma Patterson et al. Public Health Nutr. .


Objective: To develop a feasible, valid, reliable web-based instrument to objectively evaluate school meal quality in Swedish primary schools.

Design: The construct 'school meal quality' was operationalized by an expert panel into six domains, one of which was nutritional quality. An instrument was drafted and pilot-tested. Face validity was evaluated by the panel. Feasibility was established via a large national study. Food-based criteria to predict the nutritional adequacy of school meals in terms of fat quality, iron, vitamin D and fibre content were developed. Predictive validity was evaluated by comparing the nutritional adequacy of school menus based on these criteria with the results from a nutritional analysis. Inter-rater reliability was also assessed.

Setting: The instrument was developed between 2010 and 2012. It is designed for use in all primary schools by school catering and/or management representatives.

Subjects: A pilot-test of eighty schools in Stockholm (autumn 2010) and a further test of feasibility in 191 schools nationally (spring 2011).

Results: The four nutrient-specific food-based criteria predicted nutritional adequacy with sensitivity ranging from 0.85 to 1.0, specificity from 0.45 to 1.0 and accuracy from 0.67 to 1.0. The sample in the national study was statistically representative and the majority of users rated the questionnaire positively, suggesting the instrument is feasible. The inter-rater reliability was fair to almost perfect for continuous variables and agreement was ≥ 67 % for categorical variables.

Conclusions: An innovative web-based system to comprehensively monitor school meal quality across several domains, with validated questions in the nutritional domain, is available in Sweden for the first time.

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