Mitigating errors in mobile-based dietary assessments: Effects of a data modification process on the validity of an image-assisted food and nutrition app

Dang Khanh Ngan Ho, Wan Chun Chiu, Jing Wen Kao, Hsiang Tung Tseng, Chih Yuan Yao, Hsiu Yueh Su, Pin Hui Wei, Nguyen Quoc Khanh Le, Hung Trong Nguyen, Jung Su Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Mobile nutrition applications (apps) provide a simple way for individuals to record their diet, but the validity and inherent errors need to be carefully evaluated. The aim of this study was to assess the validity and clarify the sources of measurement errors of image-assisted mobile nutrition apps. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study with 98 students recruited from School of Nutrition and Health Sciences, Taipei Medical University. A 3-d nutrient intake record by Formosa Food and Nutrient Recording App (FoodApp) was compared with a 24-h dietary recall (24-HDR). A two-stage data modification process, manual data cleaning, and reanalyzing of prepackaged foods were employed to address inherent errors. Nutrient intake levels obtained by the two methods were compared with the recommended daily intake (DRI), Taiwan. Paired t test, Spearman's correlation coefficients, and Bland–Altman plots were used to assess agreement between the FoodApp and 24-HDR. Results: Manual data cleaning identified 166 food coding errors (12%; stage 1), and 426 food codes with missing micronutrients (32%) were reanalyzed (stage 2). Positive linear trends were observed for total energy and micronutrient intake (all Ptrend < 0.05) after the two stages of data modification, but not for dietary fat, carbohydrates, or vitamin D. There were no statistical differences in mean energy and macronutrient intake between the FoodApp and 24-HDR, and this agreement was confirmed by Bland–Altman plots. Spearman's correlation analyses showed strong to moderate correlations (r = 0.834 ∼ 0.386) between the two methods. Participants’ nutrient intake tended to be lower than the DRI, but no differences in proportions of adequacy/inadequacy for DRI values were observed between the two methods. Conclusions: Mitigating errors significantly improved the accuracy of the Formosa FoodApp, indicating its validity and reliability as a self-reporting mobile-based dietary assessment tool. Dietitians and health professionals should be mindful of potential errors associated with self-reporting nutrition apps, and manual data cleaning is vital to obtain reliable nutrient intake data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112212
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Food records
  • Mobile application
  • Mobile health
  • Smartphone application

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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