Twitter for mobile feasible for capturing real-time dietary intake, behavior

Twitter combined with mobile devices are a more effective method for capturing real-time food consumption and diet-related behavior to identify relationships between dietary and behavioral factors than popular software applications, according to an article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

"Despite a large number of software applications available in mobile devices (iOS, Android, Microsoft, and Blackberry) to help individuals track eating behavior and make healthy food choices, most lack empirical data supporting their utility as health promotion tools," argues the article. "In addition, commercial applications often use proprietary methods of calculating energy intake/expenditure or restrict the type and amount of data that are collected and provided to the individual user which may obscure critical information from the user and perpetuate misinformation about dietary behaviors, nutrition, and health."

The purpose of the study was to test the feasibility and acceptability (including usability) of Twitter on mobile devices to capture food and beverage consumption behavior and reasons for eating. In the study, which included 50 young adults recruited from the University of Arizona, participants were trained to record all food and beverages consumed over three consecutive days (2 weekdays and 1 weekend day) using their mobile device's native Twitter application.

Not only did the study demonstrate that mobile-based Twitter is a feasible and acceptable method for capturing real-time dietary intake and behavior, but it also revealed that the resulting data can be used to visualize relationships between food consumption and reasons for engaging in these behaviors. Article