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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 709626, 17 pages
Review Article

Short Tools to Assess Young Children's Dietary Intake: A Systematic Review Focusing on Application to Dietary Index Research

1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Flinders University, Bedford Park, SA, 5042, Australia
2Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Flinders Clinical and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, Flinders Medical Centre, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia
3Public Health Group, Sansom Institute of Health Research, University of South Australia, 5000, Australia

Received 12 December 2012; Revised 19 April 2013; Accepted 18 July 2013

Academic Editor: Sarah McNaughton

Copyright © 2013 Lucinda K. Bell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Dietary indices evaluate diet quality, usually based on current dietary guidelines. Indices can therefore contribute to our understanding of early-life obesity-risk dietary behaviours. Yet indices are commonly applied to dietary data collected by onerous methods (e.g., recalls or records). Short dietary assessment instruments are an attractive alternative to collect data from which to derive an index score. A systematic review of studies published before April 2013 was conducted to identify short (≤50 items) tools that measure whole-of-diet intake of young children (birth-five years) and are applicable to dietary indices, in particular screening obesogenic dietary behaviours. The search identified 3686 papers of which 16, reporting on 15 tools ( , infants and toddlers birth-24 months; , preschoolers 2–5 years), met the inclusion criteria. Most tools were food frequency questionnaires ( ), with one innovative dietary questionnaire identified. Seven were tested for validity or reliability, and one was tested for both. Six tools ( , infants and toddlers; , preschoolers) are applicable for use with current dietary indices, five of which screen obesogenic dietary behaviours. Given the limited number of brief, valid and reliable dietary assessment tools for young children to which an index can be applied, future short tool development is warranted, particularly for screening obesogenic dietary behaviours.