This research tested whether children could categorize foods more accurately and speedily when presented with child-generated than professionally-generated food categories; and whether a graphically appealing browse procedure similar to the Apple, Inc, “cover flow” graphical user interface accomplished this better than the more common tree view structure. In fall 2008, one hundred and four multi-ethnic children ages eight to 13 were recruited at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, and randomly assigned to two browse procedures: cover flow (with collages of foods in a category) or tree view (food categories in a list). Within each browse condition children categorized the same randomly ordered 26 diverse foods to both child and professionally organized categories (with method randomly sequenced per child). Acceptance of categorization was determined by dietitians. Speed of categorization was recorded by the computer. Differences between methods were determined by repeated measures analysis of variance. Younger children (eight to nine years old) tended to have lower acceptance and longer speeds of categorization. The quickest categorization was obtained with child categories in a tree structure. Computerized dietary reporting by children can use child generated food categories and tree structures to organize foods for browsing in a hierarchically organized structure to enhance speed of categorization, but not accuracy. A computerized recall may not be appropriate for children nine years or younger.
Keywords: twenty four hour diet recall, children, food categories, food search strategy