A Comparative Study on Carbohydrate Estimation: GoCARB vs. Dietitians

Nutrients. 2018 Jun 7;10(6):741. doi: 10.3390/nu10060741.


GoCARB is a computer vision-based smartphone system designed for individuals with Type 1 Diabetes to estimate plated meals' carbohydrate (CHO) content. We aimed to compare the accuracy of GoCARB in estimating CHO with the estimations of six experienced dietitians. GoCARB was used to estimate the CHO content of 54 Central European plated meals, with each of them containing three different weighed food items. Ground truth was calculated using the USDA food composition database. Dietitians were asked to visually estimate the CHO content based on meal photographs. GoCARB and dietitians achieved comparable accuracies. The mean absolute error of the dietitians was 14.9 (SD 10.12) g of CHO versus 14.8 (SD 9.73) g of CHO for the GoCARB (p = 0.93). No differences were found between the estimations of dietitians and GoCARB, regardless the meal size. The larger the size of the meal, the greater were the estimation errors made by both. Moreover, the higher the CHO content of a food category was, the more challenging its accurate estimation. GoCARB had difficulty in estimating rice, pasta, potatoes, and mashed potatoes, while dietitians had problems with pasta, chips, rice, and polenta. GoCARB may offer diabetic patients the option of an easy, accurate, and almost real-time estimation of the CHO content of plated meals, and thus enhance diabetes self-management.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; carbohydrate counting; computer vision; dietitian; smartphone; type 1 diabetes; visual estimation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / diet therapy*
  • Diet, Diabetic*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / blood
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Mobile Applications*
  • Nutritionists*
  • Observer Variation
  • Photography
  • Portion Size
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Care
  • Smartphone*
  • Visual Perception


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates