Adaptation, acceptability and feasibility of a Short Food Survey to assess the dietary intake of children during attendance at childcare

Alice Grady, Alison Fielding, Rebecca K. Golley, Meghan Finch, Gilly A. Hendrie, Tracy Burrows, Kirsty Seward, Christophe Lecathelinais, Sze Lin Yoong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To (i) describe the adaptation of the Short Food Survey (SFS) for assessing the dietary intake of children (2-5 years) during attendance at Early Childhood Education and Care (SFS-ECEC); (ii) determine the acceptability and feasibility of the SFS-ECEC; and (iii) compare the SFS-ECEC to direct observations for assessing dietary intake of children in care.Design: The adapted forty-seven-item SFS-ECEC was completed by childcare educators to capture individual child's usual intake over the past month. Acceptability and feasibility were assessed via educator self-report and completion rates. Mean servings of food groups consumed in accordance with dietary guidelines reported in the SFS-ECEC were compared to those obtained by a single-day direct observation via visual estimation conducted by trained personnel. Mean differences, intra-class correlations, Bland-Altman plots, percentage agreement and Cohen's κ were examined.Setting: Early Childhood Education and Care, NSW, Australia.Participants: Educators and children.Results: 213 (98·61 %) SFS-ECECs were returned. Acceptability was high with 86·54 % of educators reporting the tool as easy to understand. Mean differences in servings of food groups between the SFS-ECEC and direct observation were statistically significantly different for five out of six foods and ranged 0·08-1·07, with intra-class correlations ranging 0·00-0·21. Agreement between the methods in the classification of children meeting or not meeting dietary guidelines ranged 42·78-93·01 %, with Cohen's κ ranging -0·03 to 0·14.Conclusions: The SFS-ECEC is acceptable and feasible for completion by childcare educators. While tool refinement and further validation is warranted, small mean differences suggest the tool may be useful in estimating group-level intakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484-1494
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Child
  • Childcare
  • Educators
  • Food intake
  • Nutrition
  • Validity


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