Easy Diet Diary app proves promising for research
How accurate and acceptable is it to use a smart phone app to collect dietary data?
Gina L. Ambrosini, Miriam Hurworth, Roslyn Giglia, Gina Trapp and Penelope Strauss
Nutrition Journal 2018 17:5 ©The Author(s). 2018 (Published 9 January 2018)
Interest is rapidly expanding in the use of mobile phone technology as a less burdensome way to collect data in health and nutrition research. So how accurate and acceptable is it to use a smart phone app, rather than traditional methods, to collect people’s dietary intake data?
This small study with 50 participants, undertaken by the University of Western Australia and published in Nutrition Journal in January this year, was designed to find out.
The study used a specially adapted version of our free mobile app, Easy Diet Diary. This version (called Research Food Diary) allowed the participants to enter their foods in the usual way, but unlike the standard version, the participants did not see any nutrient analyses.
To record the dietary intake of participants, two methods were used: participants kept their own 4-day diet diary in Easy Diet Diary and they also participated in two 24-hour recall interviews expertly conducted over the phone.
The diaries and 24-hour recalls were then analysed in our FoodWorks 8 Professional nutrient analysis software.
The results were encouraging.
The average difference in energy intake (mean agreement) between the self-tracking method using Easy Diet Diary and the 24-hour recall interview method was an acceptable 268kJ/d. For all intakes except alcohol, the average difference between methods was not significantly different from zero.
The study also found that Easy Diet Diary had a very high level of acceptance by the participants.
The majority of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the Easy Diet Diary app was ‘easy to learn (94%)’ and ‘easy (82%) and convenient (80%) to use’. Many (77%) also found the barcode scanner a useful feature. Most (83%) also preferred using the app to completing the 24-hour dietary recall, with the most popular reasons given being ‘convenience, ease of use, perceived accuracy, being less time consuming, portable, and easy to remember’.
These are promising results for the fruitful use of Easy Diet Diary in research.
If you would like to use Easy Diet Diary yourself, or to recommend it to your clients, you can get it from the iPhone app store.
If you are interested in using Easy Diet Diary for your research studies, don’t hesitate to get in touch.