Over 10 years we helping companies reach their financial and branding goals. Onum is a values-driven SEO agency dedicated.


Harnessing AI For Dietary Management: A Comprehensive Look At An AI-Driven Tool To Boost Adherence To The Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet Healthy eating habits AI-powered diet solutions

The Mediterranean diet, a rich tapestry of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil, is a beacon of healthy eating, evidenced by its potential to reduce overall mortality by 9% over a period of 7.6 years. However, its adoption is fraught with challenges, particularly in regions where processed foods are readily available.

The frequent consumption of processed foods, the high costs associated with staple Mediterranean foods like olive oil, the time it takes to prepare traditional dishes, and the requisite discipline often pose significant hurdles. These deterrents underscore the need for innovative approaches to bolster adherence to the Mediterranean diet, without compromising on the palatability and joy of eating.

In response to these obstacles, a team of European researchers has pioneered an AI-powered tool that aims to enhance adherence to the Mediterranean diet. The AI system operates in three key steps:

  • Food identification
  • Serving size estimation and
  • MDA score calculation.

Using an image of a meal, it identifies the constituent food items employing an algorithm that has been trained on food image datasets. The system then estimates the serving sizes, and based on these parameters, calculates the MDA score. These suites of functionalities empower users to objectively evaluate their dietary habits and adjust them as needed.

The MDA score, serving as a core metric in the AI tool, has a detailed method of computation. The first method of calculating this score was presented by a peer-reviewed study using nine components where each item contributes a score of 0 or 1, for a maximum total of 9 points. These components include beneficial ones like vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, and fish, where scoring a point means an individual’s consumption exceeds the median value. However, for items like meat and dairy products, one earns a point by consuming less than the median value. Other considerations for points include moderate ethanol consumption and a high ratio of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated to saturated fats.

An alternative methodology proposed in another study expands the components to 13 Mediterranean food groups, each offering a score of 0 to 10 based on daily consumption, resulting in a final score standardized to a range between 0 and 100. The 14-question MDA screener is yet another method that assesses the frequency of consumption of 12 food items, the use of olive oil for cooking, and the preference for white meat over red meat.

Traditional dietary assessment methods like food frequency questionnaires and 24-hour recall, although comprehensive, are known to be time-consuming and prone to errors due to subjective estimation of serving sizes. The AI tool’s MDA score calculation feature effectively bypasses these issues, providing a more efficient and objective method to assess dietary adherence.

In a bid to validate the system’s efficacy, the MDA scores calculated by the system were compared with those assessed by an expert dietitian. A 2022 peer-reviewed study involving four users found a marginal mean difference of just 3.5% between the two assessments, signalling the system’s accuracy and reliability. Further, a feasibility study that saw the participation of 24 individuals achieved a mean Average Precision of 61.8% for the testing set and 57.3% for the study images. This study further affirmed the system’s precision and demonstrated its user-friendliness, with participants expressing satisfaction with the tool.

Despite its impressive performance, the AI system does have its limitations. These include:

  • The occasional misidentification of food items and
  • The inability to assess the quality of food or how it’s prepared.

However, these shortcomings are seen not as insurmountable challenges but as opportunities for further enhancement. Researchers are already exploring improvements to the system’s accuracy, broadening its ability to recognize a wider array of cuisines, and refining the noise-robust training procedure that serves as the foundation of the tool’s learning capabilities.

Noise-robust training procedure refers to an approach in machine learning that mitigates the impact of inaccuracies or errors, known as ‘label noise’, in the training data. This method enhances the model’s capability to effectively manage such irregularities, thereby improving its prediction accuracy in real-world scenarios.

This AI-powered tool has the potential to become a vital ally in the quest to adhere to the Mediterranean diet. Its user-friendly interface, high degree of accuracy, and insightful feedback make it a promising aid for individuals seeking to adopt healthier dietary habits. In the clinical realm, there is the potential to use such a system to help patients manage their diets, especially those with conditions like diabetes or heart disease where diet plays a crucial role in management. Additionally, the tool could be adapted to cater to other dietary patterns, such as low-carb or high-protein diets, broadening its scope and appeal.

In conclusion, this AI-driven tool is poised to revolutionize dietary management and contribute significantly towards global health equity. By harnessing cutting-edge technology to make healthy eating more accessible and enjoyable, it paves the way for healthier communities worldwide. This development underscores the transformative potential of AI in catalyzing better health outcomes and illuminates the path towards a future where healthy eating is a reality for all.

We’d love to hear your thoughts! How do you think the AI tool can be adapted for dietary management in low-resource communities?

Source – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-21421-y


Hiequity Team

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *