Objective. Eating assessment is the first step toward amelioration of eating problems in children. A quantitative evaluation tool with three standard textures of food has been developed to determine the severity of an eating problem. However, children occasionally refuse some of the standard textures. Much time and effort could be saved if substitute textures could be used for testing. The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of using substitute food textures.
Method. Twenty children (10 without disabilities, 10 with cerebral palsy and eating impairments) with a mean age of 8.2 years(SD = 4.1) years were tested with three standard and three substitute textures of food (solid, viscous, puree). Eating time (in seconds) and chewing cycles were compared between standard and substitute textures as well as between children without disabilities and children with eating impairments.
Results. Substitutes for pureed and viscous, but not solid textures could be used for children without disabilities; in children with eating impairments, substitutes for viscous and solid, but not pureed textures could be used.
Conclusion. Children with eating impairments may be more sensitive than children without disabilities to small changes in food consistencies or other characteristics of the food. Thus, in standardized testing, food textures should not be arbitrarily interchanged.