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Adv Nutr. 2017 Jan 17;8(1):113-125. doi: 10.3945/an.116.013862. Print 2017 Jan.

Innovative Techniques for Evaluating Behavioral Nutrition Interventions.

Author information

Department of Nutrition.
Center for Nutrition in Schools, and.
USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, University of California, Davis, Davis CA.
Department of Psychology and Colorado School of Public Health, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO; Department of.
Electrical and Computer Engineering and.
Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL.
USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, ND.
Center for Public Health and Health Policy, University of Connecticut Health, Farmington, CT.
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, MN; and.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT


Assessing outcomes and the impact from behavioral nutrition interventions has remained challenging because of the lack of methods available beyond traditional nutrition assessment tools and techniques. With the current high global obesity and related chronic disease rates, novel methods to evaluate the impact of behavioral nutrition-based interventions are much needed. The objective of this narrative review is to describe and review the current status of knowledge as it relates to 4 different innovative methods or tools to assess behavioral nutrition interventions. Methods reviewed include 1) the assessment of stress and stress responsiveness to enhance the evaluation of nutrition interventions, 2) eye-tracking technology in nutritional interventions, 3) smartphone biosensors to assess nutrition and health-related outcomes, and 4) skin carotenoid measurements to assess fruit and vegetable intake. Specifically, the novel use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, by characterizing the brain's responsiveness to an intervention, can help researchers develop programs with greater efficacy. Similarly, if eye-tracking technology can enable researchers to get a better sense as to how participants view materials, the materials may be better tailored to create an optimal impact. The latter 2 techniques reviewed, smartphone biosensors and methods to detect skin carotenoids, can provide the research community with portable, effective, nonbiased ways to assess dietary intake and quality and more in the field. The information gained from using these types of methodologies can improve the efficacy and assessment of behavior-based nutrition interventions.


biosensors; brain responsiveness; community nutrition interventions; eye-tracking; nutrition assessment; program evaluation; public health; reflective spectroscopy; resonance Raman spectroscopy; smartphone

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

3 Author disclosures: RE Scherr, KD Laugero, DJ Graham, L Jahns, KR Lora, M Reicks, and AR Mobley, no conflicts of interest. BT Cunningham has a competing financial interest as a founder of Exalt Diagnostics, a company established to commercialize the smartphone biosensor technology.

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