A novel method to remotely measure food intake of free-living individuals in real time: the remote food photography method

Br J Nutr. 2009 Feb;101(3):446-56. doi: 10.1017/S0007114508027438. Epub 2008 Jul 11.


The aim of the present study was to report the first reliability and validity tests of the remote food photography method (RFPM), which consists of camera-enabled cell phones with data transfer capability. Participants take and transmit photographs of food selection and plate waste to researchers/clinicians for analysis. Following two pilot studies, adult participants (n 52; BMI 20-35 kg/m2 inclusive) were randomly assigned to the dine-in or take-out group. Energy intake (EI) was measured for 3 d. The dine-in group ate lunch and dinner in the laboratory. The take-out group ate lunch in the laboratory and dinner in free-living conditions (participants received a cooler with pre-weighed food that they returned the following morning). EI was measured with the RFPM and by directly weighing foods. The RFPM was tested in laboratory and free-living conditions. Reliability was tested over 3 d and validity was tested by comparing directly weighed EI to EI estimated with the RFPM using Bland-Altman analysis. The RFPM produced reliable EI estimates over 3 d in laboratory (r 0.62; P < 0.0001) and free-living (r 0.68; P < 0.0001) conditions. Weighed EI correlated highly with EI estimated with the RFPM in laboratory and free-living conditions (r>0.93; P < 0.0001). In two laboratory-based validity tests, the RFPM underestimated EI by - 4.7 % (P = 0.046) and - 5.5 % (P = 0.076). In free-living conditions, the RFPM underestimated EI by - 6.6 % (P = 0.017). Bias did not differ by body weight or age. The RFPM is a promising new method for accurately measuring the EI of free-living individuals. Error associated with the method is small compared with self-report methods.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diet Surveys
  • Dietetics / methods*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reproducibility of Results