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Children’s dietary intake impacts weight status and a range of short- and long-term health outcomes. Accurate measurement of factors that influence children’s diet is critical to the development and evaluation of interventions designed to improve children’s diets. The purpose of the current paper is to present the development of the Table Talk observational tool to measure early care and education teachers’ (ECET) verbal feeding communications.
An observational tool to assess ECET verbal communication at mealtimes was deigned based on the extant literature. Trained observers conducted observations using the tool during lunch for both lead and assistant ECET. Descriptive statistics, test–retest for a subgroup, interclass correlations for each item, and comparisons between leads and assistants were conducted.
Head Start centres, Southern USA.
Seventy-five Head Start educators.
On average, 17·2 total verbal feeding communications (sd 8·9) were observed per ECET. For lead ECET, the most prevalent Supportive Comment was Exploring Foods whereas for assistants Making Positive Comments was the most prevalent. Overall, lead ECET enacted more Supportive Comments than assistant ECET (F(2,72)=4·8, P=0·03). The most common Unsupportive Comment was Pressuring to Eat, with a mean of 3·8 (sd 4·3) and a maximum of 25. There was no difference in Unsupportive Comments between lead and assistant ECET.
Table Talk may be a useful tool to assess verbal feeding communications of ECET, with potential applications such as informing ECET training and assessing intervention efforts.
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