Prof Janet Cade discussed the latest advances in dietary assessment technologies suchas apps and wearables, including the validation of myfood24, at the annual ILSI meeting held in Florida.
Article written by Prof Janet Cade:
Best practice guidelines for reporting new technologies to measure diet
I was lucky enough to get some winter sunshine at the ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute) Annual Meeting and Science Symposium. This was held in Clearwater, Florida in January 2019. New technologies was the theme of the meeting, and I presented on Dietary intake assessment using technology including wearables: gaps and requirements.
This was part of the symposium on New Technology for Improving Accuracy in Food Intake and Physical Activity Assessment. I reviewed the progress we have made over the last 20 years in terms of measuring food and nutrient intake, linking to a recent review that I supported which evaluated new technology based tools for dietary intake assessment. That review identified limitations of existing tools and suggests Best Practice Guidelines for reporting new technologies to measure diet. The main challenges for new technologies are around: data entry; difficulties of food identification and description; incomplete nutrient databases and food outputs along with lack of customisation and limited validation.
Validation study of myfood24
I also got a chance to present the results from the validation study of myfood24. Assessment of diet-disease associations in population health requires accurate and often repeated measurements. Many dietary assessment tools have not been validated and most have not used independent biomarkers. We have been fortunate to be able to use the most robust approach to validating myfood24. In our study we compared nutrient information from myfood24 with nutrient biomarkers in 212 adult participants. We used a strong statistical approach to analyse the data and were able to show that myfood24 gave similar results to the more costly and time consuming interviewer-based multiple pass recall.
Wearable technology to monitor eating
Finally, my talk covered new developments in wearable technology to monitor eating habits, whilst much of this is still under development there has been good progress. Wearables could be used to measure timing of eating, duration of food intake episodes, rate of ingestion and amount ingested and possibly some nutrient intakes. Most work in this area is around wearable monitors for energy expenditure, and whilst this does not necessarily accurately reflect energy intakes, consumer wearables for expenditure are improving. A bite monitor has also been trialled and may reflect calorie intake. Wearable oral electronics can detect salt intake and a dental implant could also track glucose and alcohol. These technologies have particular challenges, not least, will people want to wear something similar to a brace or have a tooth implanted and are yet to be used in larger scale, free-living studies. So whilst we wait for technologies to develop which reduce the need for consumer recording as a result of passive measurement we still need consumers to support data entry. We can support this through speeding up selection of foods from a comprehensive database and providing real-time feedback, such as we have in myfood24.
Engaging consumers actively in measuring their food and nutrient intake will result in better educated reporters with improved health literacy. myfood24 can support individuals to make informed diet decisions.