Perspective: Opportunities and Challenges of Technology Tools in Dietary and Activity Assessment: Bridging Stakeholder Viewpoints.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1093/advances/nmab103


The science and tools of measuring energy intake and output in humans have rapidly advanced in the last decade. Engineered devices such as wearables and sensors, software applications, and Web-based tools are now ubiquitous in both research and consumer environments. The assessment of energy expenditure in particular has progressed from reliance on self-report instruments to advanced technologies requiring collaboration across multiple disciplines, from optics to accelerometry. In contrast, assessing energy intake still heavily relies on self-report mechanisms. Although these tools have improved, moving from paper-based to online reporting, considerable room for refinement remains in existing tools, and great opportunities exist for novel, transformational tools, including those using spectroscopy and chemo-sensing. This report reviews the state of the science, and the opportunities and challenges in existing and emerging technologies, from the perspectives of 3 key stakeholders: researchers, users, and developers. Each stakeholder approaches these tools with unique requirements: researchers are concerned with validity, accuracy, data detail and abundance, and ethical use; users with ease of use and privacy; and developers with high adherence and utilization, intellectual property, licensing rights, and monetization. Cross-cutting concerns include frequent updating and integration of the food and nutrient databases on which assessments rely, improving accessibility and reducing disparities in use, and maintaining reliable technical assistance. These contextual challenges are discussed in terms of opportunities and further steps in the direction of personalized health.

Journal Title

Adv Nutr





First Page


Last Page



dietary assessment; food apps; image recognition; image-based dietary records; mobile health; physical activity; wearable device

Library Record