Jenni Connelly, PhD | University of Stirling; Anna Whittaker, PhD; Nidia Rodriguez-Sanchez, PhD; Kevin Swingler, PhD
Competition Sponsor: United Kingdom Research and Innovation
Awardee Year: 2022
Malnutrition (or insufficient nutrient intake) is a significant issue for older people in the UK, and is strongly associated with poorer quality of life, functional decline and deteriorating health. Over 35% of people in care homes are affected by malnutrition with risk increasing the longer someone lives in care with it taking as little as 2 days to become malnourished. This project will develop a tool to identify malnutrition and its risk through taking photographs to identify nutritional intake. Previous studies have highlighted that malnutrition is not recorded accurately in older people in health and social care with extreme inaccuracies in diet diaries and problems including lack of staff time, difficulty remembering foods eaten, or needing a dietician to interpret the results. Linking food photos to existing food information means that it is possible to store detailed nutrient intake. We will use computer learning to link photographs of food to important measures such as food preference, physical symptoms, and malnutrition risk. The food classification tool will be delivered through a mobile phone app which will also consider portion size and eating frequency. Through this we will be able to link food intake to preferences and/or symptoms and identify foods hazardous or not preferred to decrease malnutrition risk among older people. We will develop the prototype tool and test how acceptable and usable it is in older adults for delivery in care homes, including people living with dementia.
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