Currently accepted at: JMIR mHealth and uHealth
Date Submitted: Sep 6, 2018
Open Peer Review Period: Sep 11, 2018 - Sep 14, 2018
Date Accepted: Oct 17, 2018
(closed for review but you can still tweet)
A Tool to Measure Young Adultsâ€™ Food Intake: Design and Development of an Australian Database of Foods for the Eat and Track Smartphone App
Dietary assessment is reliant on the collection of accurate food and beverage consumption data. Technology has been harnessed to standardize recording and provide automatic nutritional analysis to reduce cost and researcher burden.
To better assess the diet of young adults, especially relating to the contribution of foods prepared outside the home, a database was needed to support a mobile phone data collection app. The app also required usability testing to assure ease of entry of foods and beverages. This paper describes the development of the Eat and Track app (EaT app) and the database underpinning it.
The Australian Food and Nutrient Database 2011-13, consisting of 5740 food items was modified. Four steps were undertaken: (1) foods not consumed by young adults were removed, (2) nutritionally similar foods were merged, (3) foods available from the 30 largest ready-to-eat food chains in Australia were added, and (4) long generic food names were shortened and simplified. This database was used to underpin the EaT app. Qualitative, iterative usability testing of the EaT app was conducted in three phases using the â€œThink Aloudâ€ method. Responses were sorted and coded using content analysis. The System Usability Scale (SUS) was administered to measure the EaT appâ€™s perceived usability.
In total, 1694 (29.51%) foods were removed from the Australian Food and Nutrient Database, including 608 (35.89%) ingredients, 81 (4.78%) foods already captured in the fast food chain information, 52 (3.07%) indigenous foods, 25 (1.48%) nutrients/dietary supplements, and 16 (0.94%) child-specific foods. The remaining 912 (53.84%) foods removed were not consumed by young adults in previous surveys or were â€œnot definedâ€ in the Australian Food and Nutrient Database. Another 220 (3.83%) nutritionally similar foods were combined. The final database consisted of 6274 foods. Fifteen participants completed usability testing. Issues identified by participants fell under six themes: keywords for searching, history list of entered foods, amounts and units, the keypad, food names, and search function. Suggestions for improvement were collected, incorporated, and tested in each iteration of the app. The SUS of the final version of the EaT app was rated 69.
A food and beverage database has been developed to underpin the EaT app, enabling data collection on the eating-out habits of 18- to 30-year-old Australians. The development process has resulted in a database with commonly used food names, extensive coverage of foods from ready-to-eat chains, and commonly eaten portion sizes. Feedback from app usability testing led to enhanced keyword searching and the addition of functions to enhance usability such as adding brief instructional screens. There is potential for the features of the EaT app to facilitate the collection of more accurate dietary intake data. The database and the app will be valuable dietary assessment resources for researchers.
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