Development of “The Child Eating-Enjoyment Scale”

  •  Nana Ito    
  •  Tomomi Ainuki    
  •  Rie Akamatsu    


The purpose of this study was to develop a scale to measure whether children appear to be enjoying a meal. The subjects of the study were 944 parents who had children attending preschools in Tokyo. In September 2009, we distributed self-report questionnaires to a cross-sectional sample. We asked subjects to respond to seven items that address whether children appear to be enjoying a meal. The items were selected and the data were analyzed using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, and the reliability (Cronbach’ s alpha) and validity of the scale were assessed. The final analysis included (after the exclusion of some respondents) 526 participants, and the effective response rate was 94.4%. An instrument consisting of four items addressing whether a child appears to be enjoying a meal was extracted from the data. These four items were “My child smiles during mealtimes”; “My child says ‘It’s delicious’ when he/she is eating”; “My child says ‘I like this’ when he/she is eating”; and “My child shows interest in food during mealtimes (e.g., he/she says, ‘What is this?’).” The internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) of this scale was 0.79. We also investigated the association between total score on the scales and the categories of “picky eating,” “unbalanced diet,” “light eating,” “appetite,” and “concentration during mealtime”. The reliability and validity of this scale were confirmed. As all items in this study relied on self-reports, a study that uses an objective index will be necessary. The strength of this scale is that it is easy to use and evaluate because it consists of only four items.

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