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The diet and behaviour scale (DABS): Testing a new measure of food and drink consumption in a cohort of secondary school children from the South West of England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gareth RichardsORCiD



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


A multitude of instruments exist to assess dietary intake. Many, however, are time-consuming to administer, focusprimarily on macronutrient composition or the effects of specific micronutrients, and do not consider the effects offoods and drinks that fail to add significant nutritional contributions (e.g. energy drinks, chewing gum). In order toaddress these issues the current paper introduces the Diet and Behaviour Scale (DABS). This 29-itemquestionnaire is used to measure both the frequency and amount of consumption of common foods and drinks,with a particular onus on functional foods and dietary variables of current concern. The DABS was administered toa large cohort of secondary school children from the South West of England at two time-points. At Time 1(December 2012) the cohort consisted of 3071 pupils, 2030 of whom responded to the questionnaire; at Time 2(June 2013) 3323 pupils made up the cohort, and 2307 completed the questionnaire. Factor analysis yielded afour-factor solution labelled Junk Food, Caffeinated Soft Drinks/Gum, Healthy Foods, and Hot CaffeinatedBeverages. When investigating how these factors were related to demographic and lifestyle variables, Chi-squareanalyses uncovered the following relationships: being male was associated with high Junk Food intake; sleepingfor fewer hours than average, achieving low school attendance, and having poor general health were associatedwith high intake of Caffeinated Soft Drinks/Gum; lower school year, more sleep, more frequent exercise, and goodgeneral health were associated with high intake of Healthy Foods; and being male, having a special educationalneeds status, reporting fewer hours of sleep, and being in an older school year were associated with a high intake ofHot Caffeinated Beverages. Whilst controlling for demographic and lifestyle variables, logistic regressionanalyses determined that poor general health was predicted by high consumption of Caffeinated Soft Drinks/Gumand low consumption of Healthy Foods. Though additional studies are required to further test the questionnaireand its associated factor structure, the DABS is considered to be a useful self-report measure of certain aspects ofdietary intake, and is proposed as a useful tool for future research investigating dietary influences on psychologicalvariables such as mental wellbeing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Richards G, Malthouse A, Smith AP

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Food Research

Year: 2015

Volume: 4

Issue: 3

Pages: 148-161

Online publication date: 08/04/2015

Acceptance date: 06/04/2015

Date deposited: 05/07/2018

ISSN (print): 1927-0887

ISSN (electronic): 1927-0895

Publisher: Canadian Center of Science and Education


DOI: 10.5539/jfr.v4n3p148


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