Accurate assessment of dietary intake and physical activity is a vital component for quality research in public health, nutrition, and exercise science. However, accurate and consistent methodology for the assessment of these components remains a major challenge. Classic methods use self-report to capture dietary intake and physical activity in healthy adult populations. However, these tools, such as questionnaires or food and activity records and recalls, have been shown to underestimate energy intake and expenditure as compared with direct measures like doubly labeled water. This paper summarizes recent technological advancements, such as remote sensing devices, digital photography, and multisensor devices, which have the potential to improve the assessment of dietary intake and physical activity in free-living adults. This review will provide researchers with emerging evidence in support of these technologies, as well as a quick reference for selecting the “right-sized” assessment method based on study design, target population, outcome variables of interest, and economic and time considerations.

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This publication was developed following the IAFNS 2016 Tech Summit: Innovative Tools for Assessing Diet & Physical Activity for Health Promotion.

This work was supported by the IAFNS Balancing Food & Activity for Health CommitteeLearn more about IAFNS’s work and commitment to Scientific Integrity.