Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Mary Nelle Traylor

Committee Members

Mary Rose Gram, Roger Frey, Robert Roney


Nutrition has historically been one of the few disciplines in diagnostic and evaluation centers which has not administered some type of developmental test in making an assessment. A psychological test that would ascertain a range of intellectual functioning by the ability to identify foods and relate a child's cognition of foods to the variety of his diet would be most helpful to nutritionists, especially those working in diagnostic and evaluation centers for mentally retarded and developmentally disabled children. Therefore, the purpose of the study was to determine if a Food Identification Test could be developed for nutritionists in University Affiliated Child Development Centers to predict a broad range of intellectual functioning, to predict variety in the diet, and to predict adequacy of dietary intake as measured by adherence to the Basic Four Food Groups.

A Food Identification Test (FIT) was administered during the fall of 1974 to 112 subjects from the combined school and evaluation of the populations of the University of Tennessee Child Development Center. The test contained 88 color prints of actual food products arranged in order of increasing difficulty based on preliminary work begun in 1973. Data, including raw scores, chronological and mental ages, sex, race socioeconomic status, and three day food records, were collected and compared.

The chi square test for goodness of fit indicated that the frequency distribution of the FIT scores did not follow a normal curve. The FIT raw scores were measured for correlation with mental age, socioeconomic status, mother's level of education, dietary variety scores, and Basic Four Food Group scores using the Spearman's rank-difference correlation method. FIT scores were significantly correlated with mental age at p < 0.05. There were no significant differences between the scores of black and white children or between males and females. The reliability coefficient of 0.9685 for the FIT was computed, using Spearman's rank correlation method of split-half scores and was found to be significant at p < 0.01. The only predictive validity coefficient found to be significant was for mental age (rho= 0.825). A table using FIT scores to predict three broad ranges of intellectual functioning: average or above; low average or borderline retardation: and mild, moderate, severe or profound retardation was constructed. An overlap of score ranges was seen between the three groups in the population studied. An additional table was compiled using FIT scores to estimate mental ages. For each adjacent level of FIT scores an overlap of mental ages was observed; the mental age ranges for each of the corresponding levels of FIT scores were too large to be definitive. Consequently, the usefulness of the FIT is limited in predicting developmental functioning-- either intellectual level or mental age--for individuals in the population tested.

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