Cognitive ability, social desirability, body mass index and socioeconomic status as correlates of fourth-grade children's dietary-reporting accuracy

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Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

To investigate the relationship of reporting accuracy in 24-h dietary recalls to child-respondent characteristics—cognitive ability, social desirability, body mass index (BMI) percentile and socioeconomic status (SES).

SUBJECTS/METHODS:

Fourth-grade children (mean age 10.1 years) were observed eating two school meals and interviewed about dietary intake for 24 h that included those meals. (Eight multiple-pass interview protocols operationalized the conditions of an experiment that crossed two retention intervals—short and long—with four prompts (ways of eliciting reports in the first pass)). Academic achievement-test scores indexed cognitive ability; social desirability was assessed by questionnaire; height and weight were measured to calculate BMI; nutrition-assistance program eligibility information was obtained to index SES. Reported intake was compared to observed intake to calculate measures of reporting accuracy for school meals at the food-item (omission rate; intrusion rate) and energy (correspondence rate; inflation ratio) levels. Complete data were available for 425 of 480 validation-study participants.

RESULTS:

Controlling for manipulated variables and other measured respondent characteristics, for one or more of the outcome variables, reporting accuracy increased with cognitive ability (omission rate, intrusion rate, correspondence rate, P<0.001), decreased with social desirability (correspondence rate, P<0.0004), decreased with BMI percentile (correspondence rate, P = 0.001) and was better by higher- than by lower-SES children (intrusion rate, P = 0.001). Some of these effects were moderated by interactions with retention interval and sex.

CONCLUSIONS:

Children's dietary-reporting accuracy is systematically related to such respondent characteristics as cognitive ability, social desirability, BMI percentile and SES.

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