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Public Health Nutr. 2014 Aug;17(8):1671-81. doi: 10.1017/S1368980013003236. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

Accuracy of food portion size estimation from digital pictures acquired by a chest-worn camera.

Author information

  • 11Department of Neurosurgery,University of Pittsburgh,Pittsburgh,PA 15213,USA.
  • 22Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering,University of Pittsburgh,Pittsburgh,PA,USA.
  • 34Department of Psychiatry,University of Pittsburgh,Pittsburgh,PA,USA.



Accurate estimation of food portion size is of paramount importance in dietary studies. We have developed a small, chest-worn electronic device called eButton which automatically takes pictures of consumed foods for objective dietary assessment. From the acquired pictures, the food portion size can be calculated semi-automatically with the help of computer software. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the accuracy of the calculated food portion size (volumes) from eButton pictures.


Participants wore an eButton during their lunch. The volume of food in each eButton picture was calculated using software. For comparison, three raters estimated the food volume by viewing the same picture. The actual volume was determined by physical measurement using seed displacement.


Dining room and offices in a research laboratory.


Seven lab member volunteers.


Images of 100 food samples (fifty Western and fifty Asian foods) were collected and each food volume was estimated from these images using software. The mean relative error between the estimated volume and the actual volume over all the samples was -2·8 % (95 % CI -6·8 %, 1·2 %) with sd of 20·4 %. For eighty-five samples, the food volumes determined by computer differed by no more than 30 % from the results of actual physical measurements. When the volume estimates by the computer and raters were compared, the computer estimates showed much less bias and variability.


From the same eButton pictures, the computer-based method provides more objective and accurate estimates of food volume than the visual estimation method.

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