Plate & Rate: Using technology to help monitor food intake

Finding new, engaging and understandable ways to visualise food intake and the data associated with it, is something that many people wish for. The process of recording and monitoring the food you eat is fraught with issues that can deter many people, one of these simply being that people forget, others include the recall process – looking back over the choices you made and processing the data associated with it. With obesity in the UK at high levels and set to rise, it seems like the next logical step to take is to use technology to make it easier for people to monitor their food intake. While letting an application takes care of the data processing and giving the user clear and concise information about their diet.

To see if this is the case and technology can enhance the monitoring and nutritional processing side of a person’s diet, my final year project will look at this. Being a Web Technology student a web application was developed, Plate and Rate lets users upload images of the food, other users of the application then rate and tag these food choices for how closely they believe they match the NHS Eat Well plate.

Plate and Rate makes it easy for you to tag the content, all you have to do is increase or decrease the size of the segments in a pie chart for how much of that food type you think is in the plate you’ve been given to rate. Plate and Rate then collates all of this data and gives you information back on how well you did.

Firstly, Plate and Rate tells you how close you were to the guideline for each plate you uploaded and awards you points for how well you did. Then, the application collates all of your plate data and creates an ‘overall plate’ this is every plate you have uploaded mashed together into one big plate which you can then compare to the guideline. Plate and Rate then plots how far away from the guideline you were for each meal you uploaded allowing for an overview and a progression on how you did. The application also allows for you to view your uploads for the past 7 days for finer control. Plate and Rate also awards you points for how accurately you rated other people’s plates, letting you gain ideas and enhancing your knowledge of balanced meals. This work carries on where a previous project left off – read the results of that project here.

This is currently very exciting and promising research for the future and lets you make it easier to see the food you’re eating over a period of time, simply by uploading images and using the application. The trial is expected to run for three weeks and if you’d like to participate then please visit http://chrisborrowdale.co.uk/participate/ and complete the form. Here you’ll be asked a few questions to assess your current eating habits – to get an even spread of participants.

If you have any queries then please feel free to contact me at chris@chrisborrowdale.co.uk

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