Research Article| Volume 51, ISSUE 5, P547-555.e1, May 2019

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Beyond Nutrient Intake: Use of Digital Food Photography Methodology to Examine Family Dinnertime

Published:March 01, 2019DOI:



      To explore the feasibility of using an image-based food photography methodology (Remote Food Photography Method) in a rural, low-resource audience and use the photos to examine the context of family dinner.


      Parents used the SmartIntake app on study-issued tablets to take before and after photos of their and their child's dinner for about 7 nights and participated in a mini-focus group to discuss their experience with the Remote Food Photography Method.


      Six Head Start/preschool centers in rural Colorado.


      Mother–child dyads (n = 31).

      Variables Measured

      Number and quality of photos received, participant feedback, meal timing, concordance, location, preparation, and quality.


      The researchers assessed feasibility via practicality (percent photos received) and acceptability (general inductive approach used to analyze mini-focus group transcripts for participant feedback); time stamps, meal quality, and food preparation scales were used to analyze dinner photos.


      The majority of photographs (738 of 864) were received. Participants reacted favorably to the methodology; for some, it led to greater self-reflection about mealtime. Mother–child dyads usually ate dinner at the same time and often ate the same food. Children were frequently served protein and refined grains and were rarely served whole grains or fruit. Many families relied on convenience foods.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Digital food photography was feasible in this audience. Photos yielded a holistic picture of family dinnertime: meal timing, location, concordance in parent–child meals, level of preparation, and meal quality.

      Key Words

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