Semester of Graduation

Fall 2022


Master of Science (MS)


School of Nutrition and Food Science

Document Type



Introduction: The Home Food Environment (HFE) refers to the availability and accessibility of foods and food products within the home and is an important factor for addressing and supporting healthy eating behaviors. Collectively, food choice, food behaviors, and the HFE are a major influence on obesity and other chronic diseases. Nutrition Interventions targeting the HFE can be an effective strategy for weight management and chronic disease prevention. So, it is advantageous to further the development of methods to measure the HFE. The Small Changes/Healthy Habits (SCHH) community nutrition education program, piloted in Louisiana in Fall 2019, teaches skills that support healthier food choices, and strategies for food placement at home, based on principles of choice architecture. To minimize participant reporting burden, the SCHH evaluation introduced digital photography as an alternative to the standard home food inventory for documenting availability of foods/food products in the household. As piloted, the method demonstrated feasibility but was not validated. The purpose of this study was to validate the digital photo method.

Method: A participant survey that included a home food inventory and a brief demographic section was developed for this study. Participant recruitment progressed through university and community programs, targeting adults who do the grocery shopping and who have a standard kitchen, a camera, and internet access. The study was conducted entirely on-line, from March to August 2022. Participants completed a traditional home food inventory; submitted photos of household foods according to specific instructions; reported their preference for the inventory or photo method. The analysis was designed to answer the questions: Can images of the home food environment give researchers the same quality of data as the conventional home food inventory checklist? And is this approach preferred by the participant? This was accomplished by determining if different researchers reviewing the same photos would obtain the same information (inter-rater reliability); and if this information was the same as the information reported by the participant (concurrent validity). An analysis of variance (ANOVA) and randomized block design were used to test for agreement between researcher and participant inventories, and among inventories from the 3 researchers, for 53 participant data sets. The z-statistical test was used to determine participant method preference.

Results: This participant group was predominantly female (68%), young adults (90.5%), and Hispanic or Latino (71.7%). Correlation coefficients for concurrent validity and for inter-rater reliability, kappa mean = 0.54; p = 0.98, demonstrated moderately agreement and significant consistency among reviewers. As a means of participant reporting on household food information, the Z-test indicated that the digital photo method was preferred to the checklist, p = 0.01.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated that the HFE photo documentation method is valid and is the preferred method for reporting on the presence of foods in the home. This data collection method minimizes participant burden, which can improve study participation rates and data quality.



Committee Chair

Gollub, Elizabeth



Available for download on Thursday, October 25, 2029