Usability of a smartphone food picture app for assisting 24-hour dietary recall: A pilot study

Nobuko Hongu, Benjamin T. Pope, Pelin Bilgiç, Barron J. Orr, Asuka Suzuki, Angela Sarah Kim, Nirav C. Merchant, Denise J. Roe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: The Recaller app was developed to help individuals record their food intakes. This pilot study evaluated the usability of this new food picture application (app), which operates on a smartphone with an embedded camera and Internet capability. SUBJECTS/METHODS: Adults aged 19 to 28 years (23 males and 22 females) were assigned to use the Recaller app on six designated, nonconsecutive days in order to capture an image of each meal and snack before and after eating. The images were automatically time-stamped and uploaded by the app to the Recaller website. A trained nutritionist administered a 24-hour dietary recall interview 1 day after food images were taken. Participants’ opinions of the Recaller app and its usability were determined by a follow-up survey. As an evaluation indicator of usability, the number of images taken was analyzed and multivariate Poisson regression used to model the factors determining the number of images sent. RESULTS: A total of 3,315 food images were uploaded throughout the study period. The median number of images taken per day was nine for males and 13 for females. The survey showed that the Recaller app was easy to use, and 50% of the participants would consider using the app daily. Predictors of a higher number of images were as follows: greater interval (hours) between the first and last food images sent, weekend, and female. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this pilot study provide valuable information for understanding the usability of the Recaller smartphone food picture app as well as other similarly designed apps. This study provides a model for assisting nutrition educators in their collection of food intake information by using tools available on smartphones. This innovative approach has the potential to improve recall of foods eaten and monitoring of dietary intake in nutritional studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-212
Number of pages6
JournalNutrition Research and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • 24-hour dietary recall
  • Food pictures
  • Food record
  • Smartphone app

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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