Perceptions of household measuring utensils amongst Mmopane community in Botswana
In assessing adults’ dietary intakes, nutritionists and dietitians often rely on clients’ reported food consumption, estimated in units of households measuring utensils (cups, tablespoons and teaspoons). However, it is yet to be established whether the public can accurately estimate the capacity of household utensils and the amount of food consumed in units of household measuring utensils. The purpose of the study was to examine conceptions of household measuring utensils and establish how well participants estimate the sizes of household measuring utensils comparing with metric sizes of 250 ml for a cup, 15 ml and 5 ml for a tablespoon and a teaspoon, respectively. The study used a cross-sectional survey design with a random sample of 253 participants aged between 18-60 years. Participants were asked to complete questionnaires by identifying a sample that best approximated their perception of a standard (metric) cup, tablespoon and teaspoon. The results revealed that most adults’ perceptions of the utensils differed from the correct measurements (metric sizes) of household utensils. Fifty eight percent of participants identified a sample of 375 ml sample as the one that they thought best
approximated a standard / metric cup while 19% identified a 330 ml sample as the one that best approximated a metric cup. Only 13% of participants correctly identified a standard cup. Pertaining to tablespoon and teaspoon sizes, only about 7% and 38% participants correctly identified a tablespoon and teaspoon, respectively. The weighted mean size of a cup as perceived by participants was estimated at 332 ml. The mean difference between what participant perceived best explained their understanding of a cup (332ml) from the metric size of 250 ml was statistically significant (significant one sample t-test; T = 20. 234, p< .001; df = 252). Similarly, the average size of a teaspoon as perceived by participants differed from standard/ metric size of a teaspoon (T = -4. 326, p< .001; n= 251). Similarly, observations were made with regard to the difference between perceived size of tablespoon (T = -51.20, p< .001; n = 252) and metric size of a tablespoon. Lastly, participants’ perception of sizes of household utensils was influenced by age, education and gender. The findings underscore the importance of establishing local notions of household measures before assessment methods that rely on their use are administered. Further, the findings suggest the need for clients’ education on household measures prior to use of the same in dietary assessments.
Keywords: Botswana, Dietary recall, Dietary assessment, Household measuring