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Table 3 Eating and feeding behavior coding schemes for children over 12 months of age, and their families

From: Methodological considerations for observational coding of eating and feeding behaviors in children and their families

Coding scheme name
(if applicable)
Authors Target measures Coded behaviors or constructs Coding scheme published Comments
The ABC Mealtime Coding System Fiese et al., 2007 [29] Dimensions of mealtime behavior Action-oriented behaviors
Behavior control behaviors
Meal-oriented communication Positive communication
Critical communication
No Micro-systems coding scheme that captures detailed interactions of caregivers and children at mealtime.
Behavior of Eating and Activity for Children’s Health Evaluation System (BEACHES) McKenzie et al., 1991 [13] Dimensions of children’s physical activity, eating behaviors and related environmental elements Environment
Physical location
Activity level
Eating Behavior
Prompted event
Child response
Events receiving consequences
No Can be applied in many different environments. Codes antecedents as well as child eating (or physical activity) behavior changes (increase or decrease). Environmental variables contextualize behaviors. Original manuscript employed 60 min observations. Gives extensive information about the eating context, but offers limited descriptions of eating behaviors itself.
Bob and Tom’s Method of Assessing Nutrition (BATMAN) Klesges et al., 1983 [30] Child eating behavior and related physical and social environment variables Child’s eating environment
Child behavior
Family member interactions with child (encouragement, discouragement, modeling, prompting etc.)
Child’s response to interaction
Yes Original form uses partial interval time sampling – in 10 s windows the child’s behavior as well as the person interacting with the child and the manner of interaction are coded. Live coding is implemented.
Dyadic Interaction Nomenclature for Eating (DINE) Stark et al., 2000 [31] Parent and child mealtime behaviors Parent behaviors: Direct command, indirect command, coax, reinforce, parent talk, physical prompt, feed.
Child behaviors: Non-compliance to direct commands, refuse/complaints about food, requests for food, child talk, away from table/food.
Child eating
No All behaviors are coded from video on an occurrence/nonoccurrence basis in 10 s intervals, with the exception of bites, which were counted per 10 s interval.
Feeding Behavior Coding System Hughes et al., 2007 [32] Child care provider’s feeding behaviors Nature of the feeding directive (authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, uninvolved), the frequency of directive and the food group to which the directive was targets (fruit, vegetable, entree, starch). No 22-item checklist measure of capturing observed feeding behaviors among child care providers, developed from the Caregiver Feeding Styles Questionnaire [33].
Family Mealtime Q-Sort Kiser et al., 2010 [34] Domains of family mealtimes Positive Tone
Meaningful Conversation
Clear Plan
Parenting Style
Yes 54 item measure describing mealtime characteristics, occurrences and practices on a 9 point scale.
Family Mealtime Coding System Haycraft and Blisset, 2008 [5] Parental feeding practices Pressure to eat
Physical prompt to eat
Restriction of food intake
Use of incentive/conditions
No Based on subscales of the Child Feeding Questionnaire [35].
The Feeding Scale Chatoor et al., 1997 [36] Domains of dyadic feeding Dyadic reciprocity
Dyadic conflict
Talk and distraction
Struggle for control
Maternal non-contingency
No Developed to evaluate feeding disorders in infants, has been validated in children up to 3 years old.
Iowa Family Interaction Rating Scale Melby et al., 1998 [37] Dyadic, family-level interpersonal and dynamics Interpersonal and family-level (11 domains) and parent-level dynamics (10 domains) Yes Similar to the McMaster Mealtime Interaction Coding System (MICS) in that this coding scheme captures macro-level interpersonal family dynamics are coded. Can be applied to a mealtime context. [38]
McMaster Mealtime Interaction Coding System (MICS) Dickstein et al., 1994 [39] Family functioning at mealtime. Task accomplishment
Affective interaction
Interpersonal involvement
Behavior control
Overall family functioning
No Family mealtime observed in the home environment. Each dimension scored on a 7-point scale, from 1 “very healthy” to 7 “unhealthy”. Widely used, with good validity. Focus is more on family dynamics rather than food consumption.
Mealtime Observation Form Benson and Munoz, 2004 [40] Structural characteristics of a meal Length of meal
Number of adult and children present
How the meal is served
Where the meal takes place
How many times the child and parent leave the table
Types of foods served
Is TV/radio/music on/off
Does child get second helpings
Beverage of child
Is dessert served
Parents response to child’s picky eating behavior
No Widely used form in child eating and feeding studies [41,42,43]. Straightforward coding scheme that is likely easy to apply reliably.
Mealtime Observation Schedule (MOS) Sanders and Le Gris, 1989 [44], Sanders et al., 1993 [45] Parental feeding practices and children’s problem and appropriate feeding behaviors 17 categories of child-feeding behaviors (11 categories of disruptive mealtime behavior and 6 categories of appropriate mealtime behavior)
14 categories of parent behavior (aversive behavior and 8 categories of non-aversive behavior.
Partial Derived from the Family Observation Schedule [46]. Coded in 10 s time blocks during a 20-min observation period. Measures derived from the MOS include % of overall melt during which particular behaviors are exhibited (i.e. % of intervals with a disruptive feeding behavior present).
Parent Modeling of Eating Behaviors (PARM-O) Palfreyman, Haycraft, Meyer, 2015 [8] Parental role modeling of eating behaviors Verbal modeling
Behavioral Modelling
Unintentional Modeling
No Developed along with the self-report questionnaire version for parent’s report of their role modeling.
Responsiveness to Child Feeding Cues Scale Hodges et al. [47] Maternal responsiveness to child feeding cues Caregiver general responsiveness during feeding
Child feeding cues
Caregiver responsiveness to child feeding cues
Partial Detailed coding scheme that allows for the micro and global analyses of dyadic feeding interaction from early infancy to toddlerhood. Codes child’s hunger and fullness cues separately from caregiver’s responsiveness to those cues. Child feeding cues are additionally divided into Early, Active and Late cues. This coding scheme would likely require a graduate level coder to apply given its detail.
Revised BATMAN Koivisto et al., 1994 [48] Child eating behavior and related physical and social environment variables Additional child behavior categories:
Positive food statements
Negative food statements
Neutral food statements
Statements from children about their own eating
Additional parent behavior categories:
Positive statements about food
Negative statements about food
Neutral statements about food
General nonfood statements
Positive statements about child eating
Yes A revised version of the BATMAN for video recording, with additional categories added for both child and parent behaviors.
Cooke et al., 1997 [49] Temporal patterns of food intake Food types consumed throughout a meal No Laboratory meal protocol. Videos coded in 10 s intervals for foods consumed throughout the meal under two conditions to assess temporal patterns of intake in subjects with eating disorders.
Cousins et al., 1990 [50] Characteristics of food served and consumed at mealtime. Foods served during meal
Method of preparation
Number of helpings
Estimated portion sizes
Amount food eaten
No Live coding employed to measure characteristics of food served and eaten at a mealtime. Form used to count and record events around food preparation and consumption. Could be applied to video recorded eating interactions if camera angle captured preparation, serving and consumption.
Cousins et al., 1990 [50] Food related interactions between parent and child For each interaction the following are coded:
1) Time it occurred
2) Persons involved
3) Parental control strategies
4) Child’s response
No Adapted from prior works [51, 52] for mealtime interactions. Originally employed using live coding. Captures dyadic interactions around food (parent action and child response), but does not capture quality of interaction.
Fisher et al., 2013 [53] Self-served portion size and energy intake in a controlled experimental setting Number of entrée spoonfuls served
Self-served portion size (g)
No Controlled laboratory setting where pasta was served. Systematically varied the amount available for self-serving and size of serving spoon. Number of spoonfuls served were recorded. Simple and straightforward coding scheme.
Iannotti, O’Brien and Spillman, 1994 [54] Encouragement and discouragements of child eating Initiator of interaction
The food involved
If the interaction was to encourage, discourage or exchange the particular food
The structure of the interaction
Whether a nutritional or other rationale was used to induce compliance
Child’s response to the statement
No Captures the social influences on a child’s eating behaviors including the food involved, and the type of command. This coding scheme is unique in that it captures whether a caregiver gives a nutritional rationale for the command. Also captures child’s response. Unclear if this coding scheme is would be easily applied as the definitions of the codes are not widely available, however the authors suspect that it might be quite nuanced.
Pesch et al., 2016 [55] Home mealtime practices Child eating at a kitchen/dining room Table (Y vs N)
TV audible (Y vs N)
Mother sits at the table to eat or drink during the meal (Y vs N)
No Simple dichotomous variables capturing limited mealtime practices.
Pesch et al., 2016 [56] Affective tone of mother’s statements to restrict child eating Statements categorized as having positive or negative affect No Characterizes mother’s tone and affect around restrictive feeding interactions. Descriptions of tonality may be difficult to interpret and apply reliably.
Power et al., 2015 [57] Maternal verbalization and non-verbal behavior during mealtime Maternal responsive and non-responsive feeding practices. No Event coding scheme developed from an adaptation of prior work [51, 58].