Sharon Kirkpatrick, Associate Professor, PhD RD

School of Public Health and Health Systems
University of Waterloo

Dr. Sharon Kirkpatrick leads a public health nutrition research program at the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Her research primarily focuses on understanding eating patterns in populations and influences on these patterns, using a systems thinking lens to consider the array of factors at play. Much of her work is aimed at improving dietary assessment methodologies to foster a robust evidence base on the influence of eating patterns on human and planetary health and the impact of interventions on intake. In collaboration with researchers at the National Cancer Institute, she has contributed to the development of freely-available and highly-accessed resources for researchers, including an online dietary assessment primer and a web-based dietary assessment tool.

Considerations in the development and evaluation of a screener to assess alignment of eating patterns with the ‘what to eat’ recommendations in Canada’s Food Guide

Dietary screeners assess consumption of a limited number of foods and/or beverages over a given period of time. While screeners have limitations (as do all self-report measures), with appropriate implementation and interpretation, they can provide quick, useful information about eating patterns in a range of settings, including public health, community, and clinical. The objectives of this project are to develop and test a screener to assess alignment of eating patterns with the ‘what to eat’ recommendations within Canada’s Food Guide (CFG) and to develop guidance for its appropriate use. The target population is adults aged 18-65 years with marginal or higher health literacy. The screener is intended for self-administration in less than 10 minutes and will be available in English and French. Considerations include how best to reflect CFG’s emphasis on proportionality, achieving balance between a more comprehensive versus a more parsimonious screener, and how to reflect diverse eating patterns within the population. The screener is informed by consultation with experts and cognitive testing with adults, with oversampling of individuals with lower literacy. The draft screener will be evaluated in English and French among adults who will also complete 24-hour recalls. Screener scores will be compared to scores on a ‘what to eat’ index and other markers of alignment to CFG, such as intake of highly processed foods. Test-retest reliability will also be assessed. A well-evaluated screener will provide insights into the extent of alignment of Canadians’ eating patterns with CFG in a range of settings.