Press release: 9th August
Research carried out to prove the validity myfood24 has shown it is as effective as similar tools already available to health care practitioners, researchers and educators, and more efficient to use
Users of myfood24, the flagship solution by Dietary Assessment Ltd, a spin out company from the University of Leeds, can record their food and drink intake by selecting items and portion sizes from the extensive database.
The expertly crafted and unique database has been created by mapping commercial ‘back of pack’ food label data like energy, fibre and fat from branded items to UK food composition tables to provide over 100 additional nutrients. Reports are generated in real time and give a comprehensive breakdown of attributes like vitamins and minerals.
The academics who developed myfood24 carried out the latest round of research to compare its performance with the traditional interviewer-administered dietary survey and to check it was providing the same quality of data for clinicians as traditional surveying and biomarker evidence.
The results of the study have been independently peer reviewed and are published in the academic journal BMC Medicine. More than 200 adults recorded 24 hours of data three times over a month, using myfood24, alongside an existing interviewer-administered dietary assessment method to achieve an estimate of longer-term diet.
The results gathered from both myfood24 and from the standard interview-led method were then assessed against biomarkers taken from urine samples which acted as the gold standard measures for protein, potassium, sodium, sugars, vitamin C, vitamin E and β-carotene. To measure energy, the researchers compared total energy intake to an objective measure of total energy expenditure, using accelerometers.
Professor Janet Cade, Head of the Nutritional Epidemiology Group at the University’s School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: “We were pleased to find the evidence showed that myfood24 gave broadly similar answers to the interviewer-based dietary recall with which many NHS staff would be familiar but which takes longer to use and is less efficient for workers.
“We would not expect either of the tools to agree exactly with the biomarkers as these provide very precise measures of nutrient availability in the body and often beyond that which can be achieved by dietary assessments. Proving that myfood24 gives similar levels of detail to long-standing methods of dietary examination opens the prospect of hospitals and GPs adopting it to save time and free up staff to carry out other work.”
Dr Darren Greenwood, Senior Lecturer in Biostatistics at the University, added: “Our findings show myfood24’s results are comparable to the more time-consuming and costly interviewer-based approach across a range of measures. Ultimately, myfood24 was compared to gold standard measures of nutrients in the blood and it passed the test: We have a valid, reliable tool for measuring diet.”
myfood24 has already been used to measure people’s dietary intake in an efficient and reliable manner by more than 20 organisations, including some in Germany, Denmark and Australia where country-specific versions have been created.
It was developed by the researchers to support academic research into dietary intake and diet-related disease. myfood24 has wide application in research, education and clinical use.
A version designed to support classroom learning is currently in use on degree courses in several universities.
The team are currently tailoring myfood24 to clinical settings such as the NHS to be used by health professionals to quickly and accurately measure diet. The aim is to empower patients to better self-manage health conditions, improve their health literacy lead to the prevention of diet-related disease.
Diet is linked to a wide range of diseases, accurately measuring the nutritional value of an individual’s consumption can help to devise healthy eating plans and advance dietary research.
The development and validation of myfood24 was funded by a grant from the Medical Research Council (MRC-G1100235). In early 2017, a spinout company called Dietary Assessment Ltd was created in order to continue the development of myfood24 and respond to a growing range of customer requirements.
The paper: "Validity of an online 24-h recall tool (myfood24) for dietary assessment in population studies: comparison with biomarkers and standard interviews" is published in BMC Medicine (DOI: 10.1186/s12916-018-1113-8)
Additional authors include: Petra A. Wark, Laura J. Hardie, Gary S. Frost, Nisreen A. Alwan, Michelle Carter, Paul Elliott, Heather E. Ford, Neil Hancock, Michelle A. Morris, Umme Z. Mulla, Essra A. Noorwali, K. Petropoulou, David Murphy, Gregory D. M. Potter, Elio Riboli
About the University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK, with more than 33,000 students from more than 150 different countries, and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities.
We are a top ten university for research and impact power in the UK, according to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, and are in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2019. Additionally, the University was awarded a Gold rating by the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework in 2017, recognising its ‘consistently outstanding’ teaching and learning provision. Twenty-six of our academics have been awarded National Teaching Fellowships – more than any other institution in England, Northern Ireland and Wales – reflecting the excellence of our teaching. www.leeds.ac.uk
About Dietary Assessment Ltd
Dietary Assessment’s vision is to help reduce diet-related disease, globally. In order to achieve this we are helping researchers, teaching and health professionals to better track, monitor and analyse nutritional intake to improve health. The Company’s flagship solution, myfood24, is being used by a growing number of organisations across the UK, Europe and Australasia.