Parents are typically relied upon to report young children's dietary intake. However, there has been limited research assessing the accuracy of such reports captured using novel dietary assessment tools. The purpose of the current study was to assess the validity of the web-based Automated Self-Administered 24-h Dietary Assessment Tool (ASA24-Canada) for capturing dietary intake among children aged two-five years (n = 40), using parental proxy reporting. The study was conducted in a daycare setting, allowing for standardization of foods and drinks offered and direct observation of intake. Parental-reported intake was compared to true intake for lunch and dinner, as well as an afternoon snack, on a single day. Each eating occasion, including plate waste, was unobtrusively documented. Parents were not present for lunch or the afternoon snack, but joined their children at the daycare centre for the dinner meal. The following day, parents reported their children's intake from the previous 24-h period using ASA24-Canada. For the eating occasions assessed, parents reported exact or close matches for 79.2% (82.3% for lunch, 81.2% for the snack, and 77.4% for dinner) of the foods and beverages truly consumed by children. Estimates of intake for energy and macronutrients examined (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) based on parental reports were higher than those based on true (observed) intake. Our findings suggest that parents are able to report what their preschool children eat and drink relatively accurately. However, the accuracy of portion size estimates is low. Strategies to enhance portion size reporting are needed to improve parental proxy reporting.
Keywords: 24-h recalls; child nutrition; dietary assessment; nutrition assessment; online dietary assessment; parent report; preschool nutrition.