Development of a Questionnaire to Assess the Dietary Behavior of Low-Income Populations

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This report describes the development of a short, standardized assessment of dietary behaviors associated with dietary quality for use with the food assistance eligible and recipient populations across the United States.  The project was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. under contract to the Economic Research Service, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).  The questionnaire was developed with extensive input from national leaders at the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (NIFA), as well as State directors of nutrition education programs targeting the low-income. Based on cognitive and field testing, the resulting questionnaire is understandable to the target audience, can be completed within 15-23 minutes, and yields results that seem reasonable and consistent. Although further testing is needed to validate it as a proxy for more detailed dietary assessment methods, it offers an option for a measure that is relatively simple and cost-effective to implement via a telephone survey approach.  As such, it would be a feasible means of collecting sufficient data to generate state-level and other subnational estimates of dietary behaviors of individuals targeted by such efforts as SNAP (formerly Food Stamp) Nutrition Education. 

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