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Obesity is a major public health concern in the United States. Eating while doing other activities, including watching television can increase energy intake. However, to our knowledge, no studies have quantified and examined the eating context among adults during everyday life. Existing studies are limited because they rely predominantly on self-reported data and focus on energy intake rather than patterns of eating behavior, such as how many times people eat during the day and how long each episode lasted. Automatic images taken by the SenseCam provide objective data regarding eating behavior including when, where and with whom eating occurs. The purpose of this study is to investigate the feasibility of using a SenseCam to measure eating behavior during free living. Forty university employees and students wore a SenseCam and a Global Positioning System (GPS) for 1-5 days. The following variables were annotated from the image data using standardized protocols: presence of eating behavior, presence of other activities during eating (TV viewing, computer use), and social context. Data were analyzed using non-parametric t-tests and multilevel models to examine patterns and context of eating episodes by gender and BMI status. 171 person days of data were collected. Participants engaged in 4.8 (SD = 2.1) episodes of eating per day and median duration of each eating event was 9.7 minutes [Interquartile Range = 7.0, 14.6]. This study demonstrated the utility of using the SenseCam to assess eating behaviors in adults. Eating behaviors were successfully annotated and related to demographics and BMI. Copyright 2013 ACM.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date



34 - 41