Reliability and Accuracy of Real-Time Visualization Techniques for Measuring School Cafeteria Tray Waste: Validating the Quarter-Waste Method

Hanks, Andrew S., David Just and Brian Wansink. (2014). “Reliability and Accuracy of Real-Time Visualization Techniques for Measuring School Cafeteria Tray Waste: Validating the Quarter-Waste Method,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(3), 470 474. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.013

5 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2013 Last revised: 29 Apr 2017

See all articles by Andrew Hanks

Andrew Hanks

The Ohio State University

Brian Wansink

Retired

David R. Just

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Date Written: September 3, 2013

Abstract

Measuring food waste is essential to determine the impact of school interventions on what children eat. There are multiple methods used for measuring food waste, yet it is unclear which method is most appropriate in large-scale interventions with restricted resources. This study examines which of three visual tray waste measurement methods is most reliable, accurate, and cost-effective compared to the gold standard of individually weighing leftovers. School cafeteria researchers used three visual methods to capture tray waste in addition to actual food waste weights for 197 lunch trays: 1) The quarter-waste method, 2) the half-waste method, and 3) the photograph method. Inter-rater and inter-method reliability were highest for on-site visual methods (0.90 for the quarter-waste method and 0.83 for the half-waste method) and lowest for the photograph-method (0.48). This low reliability is partially do to the inability of photographs to determine whether packaged item (such as milk or yogurt) is empty or full. In sum, the quarter-waste method was the most appropriate for calculating accurate amounts of tray waste whereas the photograph method may be appropriate if researchers only wish to detect significant differences in waste or consumption of selected, unpackaged food.

Keywords: National School Lunch Program, food intake, research methodology, cost-effectiveness

JEL Classification: C81, D01, I10, Q18

Suggested Citation

Hanks, Andrew and Wansink, Brian and Just, David R., Reliability and Accuracy of Real-Time Visualization Techniques for Measuring School Cafeteria Tray Waste: Validating the Quarter-Waste Method (September 3, 2013). Hanks, Andrew S., David Just and Brian Wansink. (2014). “Reliability and Accuracy of Real-Time Visualization Techniques for Measuring School Cafeteria Tray Waste: Validating the Quarter-Waste Method,” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(3), 470 474. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2013.08.013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2319946 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2319946

Andrew Hanks (Contact Author)

The Ohio State University ( email )

130A Campbell Hall
1787 Neil Ave.
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

Brian Wansink

Retired ( email )

607-319-0123 (Phone)

David R. Just

Cornell University - Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States
607-255-2086 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)

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