The OPUS (Optimal well-being, development and health for Danish children through a healthy New Nordic Diet) project carried out a school meal study to assess the impact of a New Nordic Diet (NND). The random controlled trial involved 834 children aged 8–11 in nine local authority schools in Denmark. Dietary assessment was carried out using a program known as WebDASC (Web-based Dietary Assessment Software for Children) to collect data from the children.
To compare the energy intake (EI) of schoolchildren aged 8–11 estimated using the WebDASC system against the total energy expenditure (TEE) as derived from accelerometers worn by the children during the same period. A second objective was to evaluate the WebDASC's usability.
Eighty-one schoolchildren took part in what was the pilot study for the OPUS project, and they recorded their total diet using WebDASC and wore an accelerometer for two periods of seven consecutive days: at baseline, when they ate their usual packed lunches and at intervention when they were served the NND. EI was estimated using WebDASC, and TEE was calculated from accelerometer-derived activity energy expenditure, basal metabolic rate, and diet-induced thermogenesis. WebDASC's usability was assessed using a questionnaire. Parents could help their children record their diet and answer the questionnaire.
Evaluated against TEE as derived from the accelerometers worn at the same time, the WebDASC performed just as well as other traditional methods of collecting dietary data and proved both effective and acceptable with children aged 8–11, even with perhaps less familiar foods of the NND.
WebDASC is a useful method that provided a reasonably accurate measure of EI at group level when compared to TEE derived from accelerometer-determined physical activity in children. WebDASC will benefit future research in this area.