Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Gail W. Disney

Committee Members

Jean D. Skinner, Cecil Carter, Etta Mae Westbrook


This study was conducted in conjunction with the Wayne County Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service. The primary objectives of the study were to compare EFNEP dietary scores (based on the number of servings from the four food groups) of homemakers with scores for foods served to all family members, to compare the dietary scoring method currently in use by EFNEP with scores derived from nutrient analysis, and to identify factors which may influence low income homemakers to eat differently than other family members.

The study involved 45 families, homemakers, and preschool children enrolled in EFNEP in Wayne County. A 24-hour dietary recall was obtained from the homemaker for herself, her oldest preschool child, and for foods made available to all family members. An information sheet was also used to collect other pertinent dietary data. The family records kept by EFNEP were made available to provide background information for the study. All food recalls were evaluated and scored by the EFNEP scoring method and by computer nutrient analysis.

Families were served significantly (P < 0.05) more adequate diets than were consumed by homemakers or preschool children when evaluated by the EFNEP scoring method based on servings from the four food groups. Homemakers and preschool children consumed a mean of 100% or more of the RDA for niacin, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin A. The mean percentages of the RDA consumed by homemakers for kilocalories and ascorbic acid were above the two-thirds level, as were the mean percentages of the RDA consumed by preschool children for kilocalories, calcium, and ascorbic acid. The mean percentages of the RDA for calcium and iron consumed by homemakers fell below the two-thirds level of the RDA, while only the mean percentage of iron fell below the level of two-thirds of the RDA for the preschool children's group. When evaluated by the mean percentage of the RDA per 1,000 kilocalories, the mean percentages of all nutrients consumed by homemakers and preschool children were above the two-thirds level of the RDA per 1000 kilocalories.

When homemakers' and preschool children's mean scores derived by the EFNEP, dietary, and nutrient density methods were compared, no significant differences were found. A lack of significant correlation between scores led to further investigation which revealed that the EFNEP scoring system did not consistently identify individuals with low or high nutrient intake. The EFNEP scoring system tended to underestimate the nutrient quality of diets and rarely overestimated.

Preschool children's mean EFNEP scores were significantly higher (P < 0.05) when their mothers had completed more than eight years of formal education, while the number residing in the household was found to be negatively correlated (P < 0.01) with the homemakers' thiamin and ascorbic acid ratings. Farm preschoolers' mean EFNEP scores were significantly higher (P < 0.05) than were preschoolers' scores who resided in a rural non-farm setting.

Results of this study indicated that the homemakers' and their preschool children's diets were closely related. No significant differences were found in their dietary intake when evaluated according to needs based on age and sex.

Based on findings in this study and the experience of the investigator with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, the following recommendations were made to strengthen the accuracy of the EFNEP scoring method:

1. A re-evaluation of EFNEP's generalized approach to scoring foods from the four groups is needed in order to more adequately reflect food choices with vitamin A and ascorbic acid content.

2. EFNEP program aides should be thoroughly trained and periodically evaluated to determine the reproducibility of recall results and scores.

3. Food recalls recorded in actual serving sizes would more accurately reflect dietary intake than the food contact method of evaluating recalls presently used by EFNEP.

4. A series of 24-hour food recalls, rather than the single recall would increase the reliability of the 6 month assessment of individual dietary intakes.

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