A comparison of food portion size estimation by older adults, young adults and nutritionists

Claire Marie Timon*, S. E. Cooper, M. E. Barker, A. J. Astell, T. Adlam, F. Hwang, E. A. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: To investigate the ability of older adults, younger adults and nutritionists to assess portion size using traditional methods versus a computer-based method. This was to inform the development of a novel dietary assessment method for older adults “The NANA system”. 

Design: Older and younger adults assessed the portion size of self-served portions of foods from a buffet style set up using traditional and computerised portion size assessment aids. Nutritionists assessed the portion size of foods from digital photographs using computerised portion size aids. These estimates were compared to known weights of foods using univariate analyses of covariance (ANCOVA). 

Setting: The University of Sheffield, United Kingdom. 

Subjects: Forty older adults (aged 65 years and over), 41 younger adults (aged between 18 and 40 years) and 25 nutritionists. 

Results: There was little difference in the abilities of older and younger adults to assess portion size using both assessment aids with the exception of small pieces morphology. Even though the methods were not directly comparable among the test groups, there was less variability in portion size estimates made by the nutritionists. 

Conclusion: Older adults and younger adults are similar in their ability to assess food portion size and demonstrate wide variability of estimation compared to the ability of nutritionists to estimate portion size from photographs. The results suggest that the use of photographs of meals consumed for portion size assessment by a nutritionist may improve the accuracy of dietary assessment. Improved portion size assessment aids are required for all age groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-236
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nutrition, Health and Aging
Issue number2
Early online date8 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

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