Taking Photos of Food Can Improve Your Diet

by Ella

In today’s digital age, snapping photos of mouthwatering dishes has become a common practice among food enthusiasts, whether aspiring chefs or casual cooks, driven by the influence of culinary competitions like Master Chef and the allure of social media fame.

However, recent research conducted by experts at Curtin University in Australia suggests that this trend of photographing food goes beyond mere social media content creation; it could hold the key to enhancing dietary habits.


Published in the esteemed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition under the title “Accuracy of energy and nutrient intake estimation versus observed intake using four technology-assisted dietary assessment methods: a randomized crossover feeding study,” the study delves into the potential benefits of food photography in improving nutrition.


The study, spearheaded by researchers at Curtin University, involved a meticulous process of weighing meals provided to participants over the course of a day, encompassing breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Traditionally, the 24-hour dietary recall method has been a staple in population surveillance due to its relatively low bias compared to other dietary assessment techniques feasible for large-scale studies. However, the study introduces a novel approach wherein participants capture images of their meals using the mobile Food Record app, which are then analyzed by research dietitians.


In a controlled feeding study employing a crossover design, 152 participants were randomized to different feeding days, where they consumed breakfast, lunch, and dinner under supervision, with their food and beverage intake discreetly weighed.

The study yielded intriguing findings: the group tasked with photographing their meals exhibited significantly higher accuracy in estimating their nutritional intake compared to participants relying on memory recall.

Lead author and doctoral candidate Clare Whitton emphasized the significance of these results, highlighting the potential impact on dietary assessment methods. Whitton stated, “Accurate, reliable data about what the population is eating is key to supporting people to optimize their health. People can struggle to remember what they have eaten, but this study shows dietary assessment can be accurate, particularly when you take the burden away from the person when you ask them to take a photo of what they ate.”

Furthermore, the research team is collaborating with Purdue University in the US to explore the integration of artificial intelligence in automating the analysis of food photos. Prof. Deborah Kerr, co-creator of the mobile Food Record App and leader of the study, expressed enthusiasm about this advancement, envisioning a future where technology streamlines dietary tracking and provides tailored nutritional advice.

Kerr remarked, “It makes it a lot simpler for people to track what they consume when they only have to take photos for the day. This will become even easier as we start to fully automate the analysis of the foods in the photos. With advances in AI technology, this may be just around the corner. As technology advances, it could provide an avenue to not only better capture what populations are eating but also offer more accurate dietary advice for individuals looking to eat healthier.”



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