Food for thought : a social cognitive approach to assessing children’s food environments.


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The objective of this study was to describe the process of developing and piloting a Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)-based assessment tool to capture the interaction between environmental and social determinants of child fruit and vegetable (F/V) intake. A three-stage process facilitated development of the 64-item Food For Thought questionnaire: (1) initial item selection and improvement; (2) expert panel review for improvement and establishing content and face validity, comprehensiveness, and cultural equivalence; and (3) refinement from a pilot test and focus group. Instrument modifications determined from these processes were described in detail. Children ages 8-12 (n=42) of ethnically diverse and low-income households were administered the computer-based questionnaire during after-school programming at local community centers. Scale response means and bivariate correlations were calculated. Overall mean F/V intake met the daily recommendation of five servings (M=5.17; SD=3.43). Self-efficacy for eating, preparing, and asking for F/V was the SCT construct most strongly associated with F/V consumption (M=2.44; SD=0.41; r=0.50; p=0.01). Future research should be designedto validate the SCT-based scales included in the Food For Thought questionnaire to provide a more robust, theoretically comprehensive assessment of factors of children’s F/V intake.



Fruit. Vegetables. Social cognitive theory.