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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Measuring food intake with digital photography

Author
item Martin, Corby
item Nicklas, Theresa
item Gunturk, Bahadir
item Correa, J
item Allen, H. Raymond
item Champagne, Catherine

Submitted to: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/13/2012
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Accurately measuring food intake in cafeteria and free-living conditions poses methodological and analytical challenges. Commonly used methods include self-reported food intake (e.g., food records, 24-h dietary recall, and food frequency questionnaires), although these methods are associated with limitations that have been outlined previously. The two pilot studies demonstrated that the Remote Food Photography Method can be used to estimate the food intake of preschool-age children in Head Start and children's homes. Furthermore, the pilot studies demonstrated that the Remote Food Photography Method is adaptable to different environments and participants, and that data can be collected and transferred to a central server for analysis from remote locations. In summary, methods that utilize digital images have proved effective at quantifying food intake in cafeteria settings and people's natural environment. Approaches that rely on digital images have many advantages, including reduced participant burden and the ability to quantify food intake at the group and individual level. Work continues to further automate digital imaging approaches.

Technical Abstract: The Digital Photography of Foods Method accurately estimates the food intake of adults and children in cafeterias. With this method, images of food selection and leftovers are quickly captured in the cafeteria. These images are later compared with images of 'standard' portions of food using computer software. The amount of food selected and discarded is estimated based upon this comparison, and the application automatically calculates energy and nutrient intake. In the present review, we describe this method, as well as a related method called the Remote Food Photography Method, which relies on smartphones to estimate food intake in near real-time in free-living conditions. When using the Remote Food Photography Method, participants capture images of food selection and leftovers using a smartphone, and these images are wirelessly transmitted in near real-time to a server for analysis. Because data are transferred and analyzed in near real-time, the Remote Food Photography Method provides a platform for participants to quickly receive feedback about their food intake behaviour and to receive dietary recommendations for achieving weight loss and health promotion goals. The reliability and validity of measuring food intake with the Remote Food Photography Method in adults and children is also reviewed. In summary, the body of research reviewed demonstrates that digital imaging accurately estimates food intake in many environments and it has many advantages over other methods, including reduced participant burden, elimination of the need for participants to estimate portion size, and the incorporation of computer automation to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of the method.

Last Modified: 09/19/2017
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