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Feasibility of an estimated method using graduated utensils to estimate food portion size in infants aged 4 to 18 months

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jennifer BradleyORCiD, Dr Emma Foster, Professor Ashley AdamsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2018 Bradley et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. The Diet and Nutrition Survey of Infants and Young Children (DNSIYC) was carried out in 2011 to assess the nutrient intakes of 4 to 18 month old infants in the UK. Prior to the main stage of DNSIYC, pilot work was undertaken to determine the impact of using graduated utensils to estimate portion sizes. The aims were to assess whether the provision of graduated utensils altered either the foods given to infants or the amount consumed by comparing estimated intakes to weighed intakes. Parents completed two 4-day food diaries over a two week period; an estimated diary using graduated utensils and a weighed diary. Two estimated diary formats were tested; half the participants completed estimated diaries in which they recorded the amount of food/drink served and the amount left over, and the other half recorded the amount of food/drink consumed only. Median daily food intake for the estimated and the weighed method were similar; 980g and 928g respectively. There was a small (6.6%) but statistically significant difference in energy intake reported by the estimated and the weighed method; 3189kJ and 2978kJ respectively. There were no statistically significant differences between estimated intakes from the served and left over diaries and weighed intakes (p>0.05). Estimated intakes from the amount consumed diaries were significantly different to weighed intakes (food weight (g) p = 0.02; energy (kJ) p = 0.01). There were no differences in intakes of amorphous (foods which take the shape of the container, e.g. pureed foods, porridge) and discrete food items (individual pieces of food e.g. biscuits, rice cakes) between the two methods. The results suggest that the household measures approach to reporting portion size, with the combined use of the graduated utensils, and recording the amount served and the amount left over in the food diaries, may provide a feasible alternative to weighed intakes.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bradley J, West-Sadler S, Foster E, Sommerville J, Allen R, Stephen AM, Adamson AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2018

Volume: 13

Issue: 6

Online publication date: 07/06/2018

Acceptance date: 05/05/2018

Date deposited: 20/06/2018

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0197591


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