Many people use technology such as mobile apps to monitor certain aspects of their behaviours. In response to this trend there has been an increase in the number of applications geared towards recording and improving peoples’ food consumption and lifestyle behaviour.
The dataset includes a total of 256 food consumption apps. The most normal use for these apps was “weight management”, with a percentage of 51%, implying they would involve some behavioural change interventions such as nutrition advice and recommendations, or coaching. Only 2 of the applications collected were registered as a medical device (e.g. mySugar Diabetes Diary).
Table: Overview and frequencies of the described purpose of the applications
The most common method for assessing dietary intake was a food diary. The types found allowed for you to input your own foods or choose from a precompiled food item database, recipes, favourites or restaurant menus. These methods allow users to record what they eat and drink daily, shortly after the experience.
Many of the apps allow the user to scan the product barcode, as a method of identifying the food, found in 46 of the apps (18%). A few innovative apps use new technologies for monitoring food intake such as impedance sensing, audio spectrogram, light spectrum analysis, or food image recognition. Although the quality of the data collected by these methods has not yet been determined. For many apps in the inventory, users are required to grant a worldwide, non-exclusive, and royalty-free right to the vendors or manufacturers of the app to use and exploit the data.
RICHFIELDS has collated this list of tools, methodologies, and integrated health and lifestyle parameters to provide the basis for identifying possible scientific, legal, technical and ethical gaps and needs regarding the collected consumer generated food behaviour data.