Instrument Measures Calorie Consumption By Monitoring “Tweets”

42586f71-3e23-4959-a59b-dc8b930ab30earticleimage.jpg

14 Feb 2017 --- A team of scientists have invented a new instrument for measuring how many calories people consume, by monitoring their social media posts such as tweets. The new device, named a “Lexicocalorimeter,” is described as being “a satellite image of how people in a state or city are eating and exercising."

“This can be a powerful public health tool,” says Peter Dodds, a scientist at the University of Vermont, who co-led the invention.

The Lexicocalorimeter gathers tens of millions of geo-tagged Twitter posts from across the country and fishes out thousands of food words -- like “Apples,” “ice cream” and “green beans.”

At the same time, it finds thousands of activity-related terms -- like “watching TV,” “skiing,” and even “alligator hunting” and “pole dancing.”

These giant bags of words then get scored, based on data about typical calorie content of foods and activity burn rates, and then compiled into two measures: "caloric input" and "caloric output."

The ratio of these two measures begins to paint a picture that might be of interest not just to athletes or weight-watchers, but also to mayors, public health officials, epidemiologists, or others interested in “public policy and collective self-awareness,” the team of scientists write in their new study.

The Lexicocalorimeter is open for visits by the public, and the current version gives a portrait of each of the contiguous US states.

For example, the tweet flow into the device suggests that Vermont consumes more calories, per capita, than the overall average for the US, due to "bacon" topping off its list of words. Tied for second in the US when states are ranked by bacon's contribution to caloric balance.

“We love to tweet about bacon,” says Chris Danforth, a UVM scientist and mathematician who co-led the new study, “But Vermont also expends more calories than average, the device indicates, thanks to relatively frequent appearances of the words “skiing,” “running,” “snowboarding,” and, yes, “sledding.””

And why does the Lexicocalorimeter suggest that New Jersey expends fewer calories than the US average? Below-average on “running” while the top of its low-intensity activity list is “getting my nails done.”

Overall, Colorado ranks first in the US for its caloric balance ("noodles" plus "running" seem to be a svelte pair) while Mississippi comes in last with relatively high representation of "cake" and "eating."

The new study suggests that the Lexicocalorimeter could provide a new - and real-time - measure of the US population's health. And the study shows that the device's remotely sensed results correlate very closely with other traditional measures of US well-being, like obesity and diabetes rates.

For the study, the team of scientists explored about 50 million geo-tagged tweets from 2011 and 2012 and report that "pizza" was the dominant contributor to the measure of "calories in" in nearly every state.

The dominant contributor to calories out: "watching TV or movies."

The nine scientists - led by professors and students at the University of Vermont's Computational Story Lab as well as researchers at the University of California Berkley, WIC in East Boston, MIT, University of Adelaide, and Drexel University - are quick to point out that the ratio of calories in to calories out in the new study are "not meaningful as absolute numbers, but rather have power for comparisons," they write.

The Lexicocalorimeter is part of a larger effort by the University of Vermont team to build a series of online instruments that can quantify health-related behaviors from social media.

“Given the right tools, our mobile phones will very soon know more about us than we know about ourselves,” says UVM's Chris Danforth. “While the Lexicocalorimeter is focused on eating and exercise, and the Hedonometer is measuring happiness, the methodology we're building is far more general, and will eventually contribute to a dashboard of public health measures to complement traditional sources of data.”

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Nutrition & Health News

In your blood: Blood sample could uncover whether a person is following their prescribed diet

20 Jun 2018 --- Clinical trials of diets and their health impacts are often plagued by participants’ poor adherence to assigned diets, making it difficult to detect the true effects of those diets. An analysis of small molecules called “metabolites” in a blood sample may be used to determine whether a person is following a prescribed diet, scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have shown. The new approach, described in a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, could provide an objective and relatively easy-to-obtain measure of dietary adherence, potentially greatly reducing the uncertainty of dietary intake estimates.

Nutrition & Health News

“Smarter, not sweeter”: General Mills launches high protein yogurt range – but it's not Greek

20 Jun 2018 --- General Mills has introduced YQ by Yoplait, a new yogurt made with ultra-filtered milk that delivers big on protein with an intentionally less sweet taste. With the launch of the yogurt, the company is catering to the needs of a range of health conscious consumers looking for a convenient dairy product that can be eaten alone as a snack, blended with fruit in a smoothie or added as an ingredient in many recipes.

Nutrition & Health News

SlimBiome muesli to hit UK shelves

20 Jun 2018 --- Fruit, nut and seed supplier John Morley Group are teaming up with OptiBiotix health to deliver a weight-management breakfast muesli utilizing the SlimBiome technology. OptiBiotix’s patented Slimbiome claims to support weight-loss management by modifying the activity of the microbiome. The exclusive license granted to John Morley marks the first foray of SlimBiome into the UK breakfast market.

Nutrition & Health News

Saturated fat increases risk of psychopathology, study suggests

19 Jun 2018 --- Adolescent rats who consume a diet high in saturated fats are at an increased risk of psychopathology in adulthood, a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity has found. Moreover, the researchers from Loma Linda University in California found that the areas of the brain that handle the fear/stress response were altered to the point that subjects began exhibiting behaviors that mirror post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings could help researchers to target mental health illness in the coming generations and express the lasting, and potentially irreversible, effects of a poor diet.

Nutrition & Health News

“Shockingly” salty salads on UK high street, lobby group calls for action

19 Jun 2018 --- A nationwide product survey by UK lobby group Action on Salt highlights the high salt and saturated fat levels of restaurant, retail and fast food salads. The group, based at the Wolfson Institute, Barts & The London, Queen Mary University of London, found that the salt content of salads bought from restaurants, sandwich/coffee shops and fast food outlets has increased by 13 percent since they were last surveyed in 2014 (from 1.65g to 1.86g per serving on average), flagging “a distinct lack of commitment” from the food industry to reduce salt, according to the group.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/Instrument-Measures-Calorie-Consumption-By-Monitoring-Tweets.html?tracking=Nutrition%20and%20Health%20News