A comparison of food portion size estimation methods among 11–12 year olds: 3D food models vs an online tool using food portion photos (Intake24)


Background: Technology has advanced bringing new cost-effective methods to measure food intake. The aim of the study was to compare food and drink portion estimates from a traditional portion estimation method using 3D food models with portion estimates using an online dietary recall tool, Intake24.

Methods: 11-12 year old children were recruited from secondary schools in Newcastle upon Tyne. Each pupil completed a two-day food diary followed by an interview during which pupils estimated food portion sizes using a range of 3D food models. They also completed Intake24 for the same 2 days. Bland Altman analyses were used to compare mean intake for each method.

Results: Seventy pupils completed both portion estimation methods. There was good agreement in food weight estimations between the two methods (geometric mean ratio 1.00), with limits of agreement ranging from minus 35% to plus 53%. Intake24 provided estimates of energy intake that were 1% lower on average than estimates of energy intake using the food models. Mean intakes of all macro and micronutrients using Intake24 were within 6% of the food model estimates.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that there was little difference in portion estimations from the two methods, allowing comparisons to be made between Intake24 data and food diary data collected from same age pupils using 3D food models in previous years.

BMC Nutrition 2021; 7:10