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Pilot testing a self-administered dietary assessment website with school-age children and adolescents under laboratory and free-living conditions


  • Y. Probst, GradCertBus, PhD, AdvAPD, Senior Research Fellow
  • S. Cufer, BND, APD, Clinical Dietitian
  • S. Lin, BND, APD, Dietitian



To evaluate the experiences and data of children using the DietAdvice website in a controlled and a free-living environment.


Observational pilot study under laboratory conditions with face-to-face interviews and a community-based nutrition and exercise intervention program. The laboratory trial consisted of n = 17 children (aged 9–16 years) and the intervention program consisted of n = 34 adolescents (aged 12–16 years). Thematic analysis of observation/interview notes and χ2 tests and independent samples t-tests (P < 0.05) to compare responses and mean times, respectively, between age groups (group 1 (primary school): 9–12 years; group 2 (secondary school/adolescent): 13–16 years). Frequency and time of use analyses for the intervention group with comparisons to group 2 of the laboratory observation.


Children had an intermediate (41.2%) or advanced level (58.8%) of computer knowledge and used computers 5.29 ± 2.31 days. There were no significant differences between age groups and time taken to complete website sections, observable behaviours and required assistance. A total of 71% of children found the website easy to complete and understand, yet expressed confusion to complete amount/frequency of food eaten (71%). Adolescents did not appear to be interested in using the website when it was an optional component of their participation. The adolescents in the intervention took one hour and 41 minutes to use the website.


Children and adolescents have the required abilities to use the DietAdvice website; however, improvements to the website to engage their interests may further assist completion. Research into how these age groups report the foods eaten using an electronic medium is also needed.

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