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Diabetes Educ. 2014 Jan-Feb;40(1):89-99. doi: 10.1177/0145721713508826. Epub 2013 Oct 29.

Digital photography as an educational food logging tool in obese patients with type 2 diabetes: lessons learned from a randomized, crossover pilot trial.

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  • 1Brett J. Ehrmann, University of Michigan Medical School, 5124 Medical Science I (C-wing), 1301 Catherine Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5611. behrmann@med.umich.edu.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this pilot study is to investigate the utility of, and areas of refinement for, digital photography as an educational tool for food logging in obese patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM).

METHODS:

Thirty-three patients aged 18 to 70 with T2DM, body mass index at least 30 kg/m(2), and A1C 7.5% to 9% were recruited from an endocrinology clinic and randomized to a week of food logging using a digital camera (DC) or paper diary (PD), crossing over for week 2. Patients then viewed a presentation about dietary effects on blood glucose, using patient DC and blood glucose entries. Outcomes of adherence (based on number of weekly entries), changes in mean blood glucose and frequency of blood glucose checks, and patient satisfaction were compared between methods. Patient feedback on the DC intervention and presentation was also analyzed.

RESULTS:

Thirty patients completed the study. Adherence was identical across methods. The mean difference in number of entries was not significant between methods. This difference increased and neared statistical significance (favoring DC) among patients who were adherent for at least 1 week (21 entries, with 2 entries per day for 5 of 7 days, n = 25). Mean blood glucose did not significantly decrease in either method. Patient satisfaction was similar between interventions. Feedback indicated concerns over photograph accuracy, forgetting to use the cameras, and embarrassment using them in public.

CONCLUSION:

Although the DC method was comparable to PD in adherence, blood glucose changes, and patient satisfaction in this pilot trial, patient feedback suggested specific areas of refinement to maximize utility of DC-based food logging as an educational tool in T2DM.

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