Public Health Nutrition

Assessment and methodology

Adolescents in the United States can identify familiar foods at the time of consumption and when prompted with an image 14 h postprandial, but poorly estimate portions

TusaRebecca E Schapa1, Bethany L Sixa1, Edward J Delpa2, David S Eberta2, Deborah A Kerra3 and Carol J Bousheya1 c1

a1 Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, 700 W State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059, USA

a2 School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

a3 School of Public Health, Health Innovation Research Institute, Curtin Institute of Technology, Bentley, WA, Australia


Objective To evaluate adolescents’ abilities to identify foods and estimate the portion size of foods consumed in order to inform development of the mobile telephone food record (mpFR).

Design Data were collected from two samples of adolescents (11–18 years). Adolescents in sample 1 participated in one lunch (n 63) and fifty-five of the sixty-three adolescents (87 %) returned for breakfast the next morning. Sample 2 volunteers received all meals and snacks for a 24 h period. At mealtime, sample 1 participants were asked to write down the names of the foods. Sample 2 participants identified foods in an image of their meal 10–14 h postprandial. Adolescents in sample 2 also estimated portion sizes of their breakfast foods and snacks.

Results Sample 1 identified thirty of the thirty-eight food items correctly, and of the misidentified foods all were identified within the correct major food group. For sample 2, eleven of the thirteen food items were identified correctly 100 % of the time. Half of the breakfast and snack foods had at least one portion size estimate within 10 % of the true amount using a variety of measurement descriptors.

Conclusions The results provide evidence that adolescents can correctly identify familiar foods and they can look at an image of their meal and identify the foods in the image up to 14·5 h postprandial. The results of the present study not only inform the development of the mpFR but also provide strong evidence of the use of digital images of eating occasions in research and clinical settings.

(Received May 26 2010)

(Accepted December 02 2010)

(Online publication February 16 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email