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Young children lack basic skills related to recognizing the types of foods they consume and dietary surveys often rely on parents’ response. The present study aimed to evaluate how well parents of children aged from 3 months to 10 years perceive images of portions of foods commonly consumed by young children.
Pre-weighed, actual food portions (n 2314) were shown to the study participants who were asked to indicate the picture that corresponded to the food in view. Mean differences between picture numbers selected and shown were estimated and compared using unpaired t tests or Tukey–Cramer pairwise comparisons.
Real-time testing of parents’ perception of food images presenting portion sizes consumed by children up to 10 years old.
A convenience sample of 138 parents/caregivers of young children (69 % females).
Individuals selected the correct or adjacent image in about 97 % of the assessments. Images presenting amorphous solids (i.e. pies and pastries with a filling), liquid or semi-liquid dishes (i.e. soups, porridges, fruit and vegetable purées) were more prone to bias. There was no indication that personal characteristics (gender, age, educational background, age, number of offspring) were associated with differences in the way parents/caregivers perceived the food pictures.
Food pictures may not be appropriate to quantify the intake of liquid, semi-liquid or amorphous solid foods in surveys addressing young children and studies evaluating their performance as food portion anchors should ensure the inclusion of several and various amorphous foods in the assessment.
To evaluate how well respondents perceive digital images of food portions commonly consumed in Greece.
The picture series was defined on the basis of usual dietary intakes assessed in earlier large-scale studies in Greece. The evaluation included 2218 pre-weighed actual portions shown to participants, who were subsequently asked to link each portion to a food picture. Mean differences between picture numbers selected and portions actually shown were compared using the Wilcoxon paired signed-rank test. The effect of personal characteristics on participants’ selections was evaluated through unpaired t tests (sex and school years) or through Tukey–Kramer pairwise comparisons (age and food groups).
Testing of participants’ perception of digital food images used in the Greek national nutrition survey.
Individuals (n 103, 61 % females) aged 12 years and over, selected on the basis of the target population of the Greek nutrition survey using convenience sampling.
Individuals selected the correct or adjacent image in about 90 % of the assessments and tended to overestimate small and underestimate large quantities. Photographs of Greek traditional pies and meat-based pastry dishes led participants to perceive the amounts in the photos larger than they actually were. Adolescents were more prone to underestimating food quantities through the pictures.
The digital food atlas appears generally suitable to be used for the estimation of average food intakes in large-scale dietary surveys in Greece. However, individuals who consistently consume only small or only large food portions may have biased perceptions in relation to others.
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