AF-16096 Smart Food Intake

We need a better understanding of the what, where, when and why of food consumption to encourage the consumption of healthier and more sustainable food. The food industry has stressed the need for more advanced methods to obtain insights into food intake and its determinants. With these insights, products, communications and interventions can be better tailored to different target groups and different eating contexts.

The methods for measuring food intake and food choice motives that were commonly used before this project started had a number of important disadvantages, including:

  • the link between food intake and the determinants to explain this intake was lacking,
  • variability between contexts was insufficiently taken into account,
  • high measurement errors, for example because respondents did not remember very well what they had eaten or why, at the time of reporting,
  • data collection took up a lot of time and effort, both for the respondent and the researcher.

This is why the PPP Smart Food Intake was carried out. The aim of this project was to collect data on food intake and underlying motives in a better, reliable, accessible way. A flexible, modular and innovative method working with 2-hour recalls ("snapshots") was developed to achieve that goal.

To apply the method, a smartphone app has been developed (SFI-Traqq app). This app can be used in research projects in cooperation with WUR. The app can be downloaded from the app store and can, if desired, send a prompt at different moments in time in which the respondent is asked to fill in what he/she has eaten in the past two hours, in which context this was and what the motives were for the eating choices that were made. The schedule of prompts can be set up in various ways, making it possible to ask for a 24-hour recall in blocks of 2 hours, spread over a longer period or on one day. It is also possible, for example, to obtain information from a large group of people only about their lunch. The method can therefore be flexibly adapted to the research question.

This method makes it possible for the food industry and the research community to obtain data on food intake more quickly, flexibly and reliably. The modular and flexible method makes it possible to expand to other eating contexts, target groups and countries. In addition, food intake is linked to context-specific food choice motives, as we know that motives differ between consumption moments and eating contexts. The inclusion of context leads to a better understanding of eating behaviour. This method will help researchers and the industry to more quickly and cheaply gather the insights that can be used to better tailor food products and interventions to the diverse needs of consumers, ultimately leading to a healthier diet.

If you are interested in applying this method, please contact us: