Child assessments of vegetable preferences and cooking self-efficacy show predictive validity with targeted diet quality measures

Melissa Pflugh Prescott, Barbara Lohse, Diane C. Mitchell, Leslie Cunningham-Sabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Cooking interventions have the potential to improve child diet quality because cooking involvement is associated with positive changes in dietary behavior. Valid and reliable instruments that are low-cost and convenient to administer are needed to feasibly assess the impact of cooking interventions on dietary behavior. The purpose of the current research is to examine the validity of fruit and vegetable preferences, cooking attitudes and self-efficacy assessments to predict targeted Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI) scores among 4th-grade youth. Methods: Child fruit and vegetable preferences, cooking attitudes, self-efficacy, age, sex and race/ethnicity were collected with the Fuel for Fun survey in classroom settings using a standardized administration protocol. Child dietary assessment data consisted of three 24-h dietary recalls collected by telephone over a 2-4 week period by trained interviewers using a standard protocol. Bootstrapped linear regressions examined the predictive validity of fruit and vegetable preference, cooking attitudes and cooking self-efficacy for the Total and 4 targeted HEI components: whole fruit, total vegetables, green vegetables and beans, and empty calories. Logistic regressions were used to confirm the relationships between Fuel for Fun survey items and HEI components. Sex and a categorical variable for race/ethnicity were included as a priori controls in each regression model. Results: Vegetable preference predicted positive associations with HEI Total Score, Total Vegetables, and Green Vegetables and Beans (p < 0.05) Each additional 2 point increase in cooking self-efficacy was associated with a 1.33 point HEI Score increase, even after including BMI z-score as a control (b = 0.667, p = 0.003). Fruit preference and cooking attitudes did not significantly predict HEI total or component scores. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that low-cost, validated measures of vegetable preferences and cooking self-efficacy predict diet quality in 4th grade children. These results also reinforce the relationship between cooking and healthful dietary behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number21
JournalBMC Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 26 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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