With technology taking the whole world by storm, people are nowadays turning to taking a snapshot of each meal instead of maintaining food diaries that track food consumption during weight loss programmes.
Now, in the latest study, Lydia Zepeda and David Deal at the University of Wisconsin-Madison told 43 people to record what they ate for one week in words and as pictures to see if photos also prompt healthier eating.
When they quizzed the volunteers, photo diaries seemed to be the most effective. Not only did they provide powerful visual documentation of snack binges, they also triggered critical evaluation at just the right time - before the food was eaten.
"I had to think more carefully about what I was going to eat because I had to take a picture of it," was a typical response.
In contrast, written diaries are often completed long after the meal and do not create as powerful a reminder of the quantity and quality of the food that was eaten, according to researchers.
"Nutritionists see diaries as recording tools. Now they should explore the role of photo diaries as intervention tools," New Scientist quoted Zepeda, as saying.
The study has published in International Journal of Consumer Studies.