Ecological validation and practical challenges of conducting dietary analysis in athletic individuals using a novel remote food photography method mobile phone application

Charlie Roberts, Nicholas Gill, Brett A. Baxter, Stacy Sims

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Dietary analysis is an important part of the sports nutrition practitioners’ role, however the ability to accurately collect and analyse dietary intake data is questionable. The remote food photography method (RFPM) has been proposed as a low-burden and potentially valid approach to collecting and interpreting dietary intake data. Preliminary research suggests this is valid in some athletic populations, however the ecological validation in real-life settings warrants further investigation.

Methods: Twenty athletic individuals completed simultaneous three-day RFPM diaries and weighed food diaries for the analysis of energy, protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Participants were required to provide details alongside provided photographs that did not include food weights to allow for the estimation of nutrient intake from minimally invasive photographs and descriptions.

Results: RFPM demonstrated non-significant random and systematic error against the weighed food diary for energy, protein, carbohydrate, and fat at -20.0 ± 455.5kcal, 3.2 ± 35.4g, -12.4 ± 49.3g and 2.3 ± 26.8g, respectively. Coefficient of variation suggest acceptable agreement between RFPM and weighed food diary for energy and poor agreement for protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Considerable variability is observed in the individual calculated values, with the least and greatest difference being 0% and -83.0%, respectively.

Conclusion: The results indicate that the RFPM may be an ecologically valid tool for the collection and analysis of dietary intake data on a group level; on an individual basis, data and subsequent recommendations based on this must be applied with caution.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Science in Sport and Exercise
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2023

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