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  • Author: Todd S. Horowitz x
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Jordan A. Carlson, J. Aaron Hipp, Jacqueline Kerr, Todd S. Horowitz and David Berrigan

Objectives: To document challenges to and benefits from research involving the use of images by capturing examples of such research to assess physical activity– or nutrition-related behaviors and/or environments. Methods: Researchers (i.e., key informants) using image capture in their research were identified through knowledge and networks of the authors of this paper and through literature search. Twenty-nine key informants completed a survey covering the type of research, source of images, and challenges and benefits experienced, developed specifically for this study. Results: Most respondents used still images in their research, with only 26.7% using video. Image sources were categorized as participant generated (n = 13; e.g., participants using smartphones for dietary assessment), researcher generated (n = 10; e.g., wearable cameras with automatic image capture), or curated from third parties (n = 7; e.g., Google Street View). Two of the major challenges that emerged included the need for automated processing of large datasets (58.8%) and participant recruitment/compliance (41.2%). Benefit-related themes included greater perspectives on obesity with increased data coverage (34.6%) and improved accuracy of behavior and environment assessment (34.6%). Conclusions: Technological advances will support the increased use of images in the assessment of physical activity, nutrition behaviors, and environments. To advance this area of research, more effective collaborations are needed between health and computer scientists. In particular development of automated data extraction methods for diverse aspects of behavior, environment, and food characteristics are needed. Additionally, progress in standards for addressing ethical issues related to image capture for research purposes is critical.