Technology-based dietary assessment: development of the Synchronised Nutrition and Activity Program (SNAP)

Authors


Abstract

Background

Accurate, reliable and feasible methods of dietary intake and physical activity assessment are required to improve our understanding of the associations between energy balance-related behaviours and health.

Methods

The Synchronised Nutrition and Activity Program (SNAP) was developed to enhance recall in children by integrating new and established methods of dietary intake and physical activity recall. A list of commonly consumed foods (n = 40), drinks (n = 9) and physical activities (n = 29) was used in SNAP. All foods and drinks were analysed by count (i.e. the number of times a particular food was selected), as a proxy indicator of dietary behaviours. All reported physical activities were assigned an intensity code [in metabolic equivalents (METs)] to determine minutes of moderate–vigorous activity (MVPA; ≥3 METs).

Results

Most participants completed a whole day's recall (both dietary intake and physical activities) in less than 25 min. SNAP was compared against 24-h multiple pass questionnaire and accelerometry in 121 children (aged 7–15 years old). For dietary variables, the accuracy of SNAP (mean difference) was within ±1 count for the majority of food groups. The proportion of the sample with a between-method agreement within ±1 count ranged from 0.40 to 0.99. For MVPA, there was no substantial fixed or proportional bias, with a mean difference between methods (SNAP – accelerometry) of −9 min of MVPA. Qualitatively, participants have indicated that they find SNAP easy and fun to use.

Conclusions

SNAP was developed to be a simple, quick and engaging method of assessing energy balance-related behaviours at a group or population level and succeeded because it can collect a whole day's recall (dietary intake and physical activities) in less than 25 min to a reasonable and acceptable degree of accuracy.

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