Picture Perfect Portions


Dissertation supervisor


Project Description:

Obesity is a physical state that is highly correlated with life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.  Food overconsumption is a major contributor to weight gain leading to obesity.  Exacerbating the issue is the widespread increase in food portion sizes served both in restaurants and in the home.  Constant exposure to these larger amounts of food and beverage has caused many individuals to experience “portion distortion,” the perception that bigger portion sizes are appropriate for consumption at a single sitting.  Independently and accurately changing this perception can be very difficult even if one has a desire to do so.
In response to these observations, we have developed Picture-Perfect Portions, a mobile application designed to combat over consumption at the individual level by providing “just-in-time” information about portion size and calorie content to users before they eat.  The application’s design leverages the power of simple visualizations to help adults monitor, understand and adjust their food consumption practices. This dissertation summarizes the iterative development of the application and the results obtained by using the application in an experimental environment that mimics a free-living setting.  We describe, in detail, the development and implementation of the application, the usability evaluation process and its results, and the impact of the application on food consumption, as determined by empirical evidence.  Finally, we use these collective observations to suggest key considerations relevant to general mobile nutrition application design. 



  1. James, M. T. & Daily, S. B. (2014, February). Design of a Mobile Application to Support Food Consumption Monitoring and Decision Making. Poster presented at the 2014 meeting of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, Seattle, WA.