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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Grains are similarly categorized by 8- to 13-year-old children

item Beltran, Alicia
item Knight Sepulveda, Karina
item Watson, Kathleen
item Baranowski, Thomas
item Baranowski, Janice
item Islam, Noemi
item Missaghian, Mariam

Submitted to: Journal Of The American Dietetic Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/4/2008
Publication Date: 11/1/2008
Citation: Beltran, A., Knight Sepulveda, K., Watson, K., Baranowski, T., Baranowski, J., Islam, N., Missaghian, M. 2008. Grains are similarly categorized by 8- to 13-year-old children. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association. 108:1921-1926.

Interpretive Summary: Computer-based diet assessment programs often use browse strategies to help participants' find the foods they consume in a program. The browse strategy usually involves hierarchically organized food categories that get progressively more specific (e.g., Fruit/Vegetables – Fruit – Orange). Most hierarchically organized food categories were developed by dietitians, and are based on their scientific understanding of foods and nutrients. Children, however, might find it easier to use a browse system based on how children understand foods. This study attempted to develop child-friendly categories for grain foods by asking children to categorize 71 grain foods into categories that seemed to the child to go together. While our research analysis revealed only six major groups to organize the grain foods, the names of the categories provided by the children were quite diverse. Although there are only a few groups, the diverse names may make it difficult for a common nomenclature to help children use the simple grouping structure. These child-friendly categories should now be tested in comparison to professional categories in helping children find the foods consumed in a dietary recall. The impact of this research has the potential of being a standardized method for implementing computer-based diet assessment programs in children.

Technical Abstract: This study assessed how 8- to 13-year-old children categorized and labeled grain foods and how these categories and labels were influenced by child characteristics. The main hypotheses were that children categorized foods in consistent ways and these food categories differed from the professional food categories. A set of 71 cards with pictures and names of grain foods from eight professionally defined food groups was sorted by each child into piles of similar foods. There were 149 8- to 13-year-old children (133 English-speaking, 16 Spanish-speaking) in this exploratory study. One-way analysis of variance and Robinson matrices for identification of clusters of food items were calculated. Children created a mean (+/-standard deviation) of 8.3+/-3.8 piles with 8.6+/-9.1 cards per pile. No substantial differences in Robinson clustering were detected across subcategories for each of the demographic characteristics. For the majority of the piles, children provided "taxonomic-professional" (34.5%) labels, such as bread for the professional category of breads, rolls, and tortillas, or "script" (26.1%) labels, such as breakfast for the professional category of pancakes, waffles, and flapjacks. These categories may be used to facilitate food search in a computerized 24-hour dietary recall for children in this age group.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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