Food photography is not an accurate measure of energy intake in obese, pregnant women

Jasper Most, Porsha M. Vallo, Abby D. Altazan, Linda Anne Gilmore, Elizabeth F. Sutton, Loren E. Cain, Jeffrey H. Burton, Corby K. Martin, Leanne M. Redman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: To improve weight management in pregnant women, there is a need to deliver specific, data-based recommendations on energy intake. Objective: This cross-sectional study evaluated the accuracy of an electronic reporting method to measure daily energy intake in pregnant women compared with total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). Methods: Twenty-three obese [mean ± SEM body mass index (kg/m 2 ): 36.9 ± 1.3] pregnant women (aged 28.3 ± 1.1 y) used a smartphone application to capture images of their food selection and plate waste in free-living conditions for ≥6 d in early (13-16 wk) and late (35-37 wk) pregnancy. Energy intake was evaluated by the smartphone application SmartIntake and compared with simultaneous assessment of TDEE obtained by doubly labeled water. Accuracy was defined as reported energy intake compared with TDEE (percentage of TDEE). Ecological momentary assessment prompts were used to enhance data reporting. Two-one-sided t tests for the 2 methods were used to assess equivalency, which was considered significant when accuracy was >80%. Results: Energy intake reported by the SmartIntake application was 63.4% ± 2.3% of TDEEmeasured by doubly labeled water (P = 1.00). Energy intake reported as snacks accounted for 17% ± 2% of reported energy intake. Participants who used their own phones compared with participants who used borrowed phones captured more images (P = 0.04) and had higher accuracy (73% ± 3% compared with 60% ± 3% of TDEE; P = 0.01). Reported energy intake as snacks was significantly associated with the accuracy of SmartIntake (P = 0.03). To improve data quality, excluding erroneous days of likely underreporting (<60% TDEE) improved the accuracy of SmartIntake, yet this was not equivalent to TDEE (-22% ± 1% of TDEE; P = 1.00). Conclusions: Energy intake in obese, pregnant women obtained with the use of an electronic reporting method (SmartIntake) does not accurately estimate energy intake compared with doubly labeled water. However, accuracy improves by applying criteria to eliminate erroneous data. Further evaluation of electronic reporting in this population is needed to improve compliance, specifically for reporting frequent intake of small meals. This trial was registered at as NCT01954342. J Nutr 2018;148:658-663.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-663
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Doubly labeled water
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Energy intake
  • Food photography
  • Pregnancy
  • SmartIntake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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