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The development and testing of a food portion photograph book for use in an African population

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To develop and test a book of photographs of commonly eaten foods to be used as a visual aid in the description of portion sizes in a large cross-sectional study on the health profile of Africans in transition (THUSA – Transition, Health and Urbanization in South Africa). Setting

Clinics in the North West Province of South Africa. Participants

One hundred and sixty-nine adult African volunteers Design

Data on commonly eaten foods, preparation methods, recipes and portion sizes were collected in a pilot study. Colour photographs, taken of foods prepared by the researchers and measured into three or four portion sizes, were enlarged and put together in a book. The food portion photograph book (FPPB) was tested by presenting subjects with a portion of real food and asking them to estimate the portion size by matching it with one of the portion photographs. Main results

Of 2959 portions tested, 68% were accurately estimated (estimated weight within 10% of actual weight). Clearly defined solid foods were better estimated than foods that had an amorphous appearance. Accuracy of estimation was not affected by gender, age or education. Conclusion

The FPPB was accepted as a useful and convenient visual aid to estimate portion sizes in the cross-sectional dietary intake study.
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Keywords: African; THUSA study; food; portion size photographs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Nutrition, Potchefstroom University, Potchefstroom, RSA; 2: Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Medical University of South Africa, RSA

Publication date: 01 June 2000

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