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Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods
Cancer Control and Population Sciences
Automated Self-administered 24-hour Dietary Recall (ASA24™)


Adapting ASA24 for Use with Children

Working in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and Westat (the social science research firm that developed and maintains ASA24), Dr. Tom Baranowski of the Baylor College of Medicine led the effort to adapt the ASA24 Respondent Web site for use with children aged 10 years and older. Dr. Baranowski built upon his earlier experience collecting intake data from children using the Food Intake Recording Software System (FIRSSt), a self-administered 24-hour recall system primarily designed to assess fruit and vegetable intake among children. Compared to FIRSSt, ASA24-Kids collects data on all foods and drinks consumed the previous day using the interface developed for ASA24.

ASA24-Kids maintains the look and feel as well as the methodology and features of ASA24-2011 (formerly referred to as Version 1; intended for use with adults), including the administration of multiple passes, the use of images to aid in portion size estimation, and the inclusion of optional modules to query location of meals, whether meals were eaten alone or with others, television and computer use during meals, and supplement intakes. The potential for ASA24 to be used with a broad range of respondents, including children, was considered throughout the development of the software. Features that make the tool amenable to use with children include an animated avatar to guide and maintain respondents' interest and the inclusion of common misspellings in the database to minimize problems with finding foods. A number of modifications have been incorporated to make ASA24-Kids more appropriate for use with children:

  • removal of food and drink terms that are not reported by children aged 8-15 years in national dietary surveillance (45% of food and drink terms were deleted);
  • removal of drink terms referring to alcoholic beverages and removal of alcoholic beverages from the list of foods and drinks probed in the Forgotten Foods pass of the recall (alcoholic beverages were removed due to potential sensitivities related to the reporting of underage drinking; a future version of ASA24-Kids may allow researchers to choose whether or not to include alcoholic beverages);
  • simplified wording of food and beverage items (e.g., 'carbonated water' changed to 'bubbly water');
  • removal of detailed probe questions based on experience indicating that most children will be unable to respond (e.g., for french fries: Were they from fresh potatoes or from frozen?; What kind of fat or oil was used?; Were they baked or fried?) (46% of probes were deleted); and
  • the addition of school to the response options for meal location.

An examination of the impact of modifications of this nature using the Beta version of ASA24 suggested that the alterations did not lead to significantly different mean estimates of selected nutrients or food groups among children. Refer to the publications section for a list of articles with a more detailed description of the adaptation of ASA24 for use with children.

Pending funding, future development to enhance the use of the tool with children could include the introduction of more child-friendly language throughout the interface, the introduction of additional avatar characters, and increased interactivity with the avatar throughout the recall.

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  • uses version 4.1 of USDA's Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Surveys (FNDDS) to estimate nutrient intakes;
  • uses version 2.0 of the USDA's MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED) and the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion's MPED Addendum to estimate intakes of dietary guidance-based food groups; nutritionists on the ASA24 team imputed values for nine food codes for which MyPyramid Equivalents have not yet been assigned by USDA;
  • includes optional modules to query the location of meals, with whom meals were eaten, and television and computer use during meals;
  • includes an optional module to query supplement intakes based on supplements reported in the 2007-08 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); and
  • is available in English (a Spanish version of ASA24-Kids is forthcoming).

Refer to methodology and features for additional information on the ASA24 Respondent Web site. A demonstration siteExternal Web Site Policy is also available.

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Use of ASA24-Kids-2012 with Different Age Groups

  • ASA24-Kids is currently recommended for use with children 10 years of age and older.
  • It is possible to use ASA24-Kids to collect dietary intake for younger children using a proxy reporter, such as a parent or guardian. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which conducts interviewer-administered dietary recalls, uses a proxy respondent for children 5 years of age and younger and has a parent or guardian assist with recalls for children 6 to 11 years of age. If relying on proxy reporting, researchers may consider using the full version of ASA24 (ASA24-2011) rather than ASA24-Kids. ASA24-2011 includes more detailed questions that are excluded from ASA24-Kids because of the expectation that children will not be able to respond accurately (refer to Adapting ASA24 for Use with Children above).
  • Formative research conducted in the early stages of the adaptation of ASA24 for children used the Beta version of ASA24. This work suggested that 8- and 9- year-olds lack the cognitive abilities necessary to complete a self-administered web-based recall. However, given the modifications made to adapt the tool for children and the fact that a significant number of usability issues that affected the Beta version have since been addressed, further evaluation is needed to determine whether children younger than 10 years of age can complete a recall using ASA24-Kids.
  • The age at which older teens have the ability to complete recalls using ASA24 as opposed to ASA24-Kids has not yet been evaluated. NHANES conducts unassisted recalls on those aged 12 years and above. ASA24-Kids does not include alcohol, which may be a consideration in determining which version of ASA24 to use with studies including older children and adolescents.

Note: ASA24-Kids-2012 does not include infant formula or baby foods. These will be added to the next version of ASA24-Kids.

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System Requirements

Use of the ASA24-Kids-2012 Respondent Web site requires:

  • a high-speed internet connection, such as cable, DSL or FIOS;
  • a monitor size of at least 10" (greater than 13" is recommended); and
  • version 4.0 of Microsoft Silverlight.

The use of computers with screen resolution set to 1024 x 768 and audio capability is recommended.

When a respondent opens the ASA24 Respondent Web site home page, the site will detect the respondent's Silverlight version and screen resolution. If the above standards are not met, instructions will be provided on how to adjust the computer.

The ASA24-Kids-2012 Respondent Web site has been tested on:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer for Windows, version 6 and higher;
  • Mozilla Firefox for Windows and OSX, version 3 and higher;
  • Apple Safari for Windows and OSX, version 4; and
  • Google Chrome for Windows, version 2.

ASA24 is designed for larger monitors (greater than 10"), and while the application will scale, we do not currently recommend its use on a smart phone or tablet.

Please note that ASA24 is not currently designed to run on Apple's iPhones, iPads, or Mac PowerPCs. ASA24 will also not run in a Linux environment.

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Accessibility Policy

The National Cancer Institute is committed to providing access to ASA24 to all potential respondents. As such, the ASA24 Respondent Web site has been designed to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (as amended). Section 508 requires that all individuals with disabilities have access to and use of information and data comparable to that provided to individuals without disabilities, unless an undue burden would be imposed.

Researchers should report any difficulties experienced by a respondent using assistive technology (such as a screen reader, Braille reader, etc.) in an email addressed to Please describe the nature of the accessibility problem and include the study name and researcher contact information.

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Registering to Use ASA24-Kids-2012

Studies using ASA24-Kids-2012 will be configured and managed using the Researcher Web site as with any ASA24 study. If you are interested in using ASA24-Kids-2012 in your study, clinic, or class, please visit the Researcher Web site to access the researcher instructions and register to use ASA24 free of charge. When you receive the acknowledgement email noting your study request, you will be prompted to email the ASA24 Support Team if you wish to use ASA24-Kids-2012.

If your study includes both adults and children and you wish to use multiple versions of the ASA24 Respondent Web sites (e.g., ASA24-2011 and ASA24-Kids-2012), please register a study for each version.

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ASA24™ is a trademark of DHHS.

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Last modified:
10 Dec 2012
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