British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

The development and evaluation of a novel computer program to assess previous-day dietary and physical activity behaviours in school children: The Synchronised Nutrition and Activity ProgramTM (SNAPTM)

Helen J. Moorea1 c1, Louisa J. Ellsa1, Sally A. McLurea1, Sean Crooksa2, David Cumbora2, Carolyn D. Summerbella1 and Alan M. Batterhama1

a1 Centre for Food, Physical Activity and Obesity, School for Health and Social Care, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA, UK

a2 School of Computing, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough TS1 3BA, UK

Abstract

Self-report recall questionnaires used to measure physical activity and dietary intake in children can be labour intensive and monotonous and tend to focus on either dietary intake or physical activity. The web-based software, Synchronised Nutrition and Activity ProgramTM (SNAPTM), was developed to produce a novel, simple, quick and engaging method of assessing energy balance-related behaviours at a population level, combining principles from new and existing 24 h recall methodologies, set within a user-friendly interface. Dietary intake was measured using counts for twenty-one food groups and physical activity levels were measured in min of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA). A combination of the mean difference between methods, type II regression and non-parametric limits of agreement techniques were used to examine the accuracy and precision of SNAPTM. Method comparison analyses demonstrated a good agreement for both dietary intake and physical activity behaviours. For dietary variables, accuracy of SNAPTM (mean difference) was within ± 1 count for the majority of food groups. The proportion of the sample with between-method agreement within ± 1 count ranged from 0·40 to 0·99. For min of MVPA, there was no substantial fixed or proportional bias, and a mean difference between methods (SNAPTM – accelerometry) of − 9 min. SNAPTM provides a quick, accurate, low-burden, cost-effective and engaging method of assessing energy balance behaviours at a population level. Tools such as SNAPTM, which exploit the popularity, privacy and engagement of the computer interface, and linkages with other datasets, could make a substantial contribution to future public health monitoring and research.

(Received May 09 2007)

(Revised September 07 2007)

(Accepted September 10 2007)

(Online publication November 28 2007)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Dr Helen J. Moore, fax +44 1642 342770, email helen.moore@tees.ac.uk

Footnotes

Abbreviations: MET, metabolic equivalent; SNAPTM, Synchronised Nutrition and Activity ProgramTM

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