Calorie-Estimating Phone App

A smart phone app takes a photo of food and claims to be able to estimate the calories.

That would be magic! But it’s a gimmick. There is no way you can estimate calories based on what something looks like in a photo if there is more than one ingredient in a dish/food/menu item. Without knowing all the ingredients (especially how much fat, which provides lots of calories but can’t be easily seen), weight of the food sample, and MANY other factors, there is not enough information to estimate calories to any useful degree. For example: take a muffin. On the outside it could look like any other muffin, but it could have half the fat (and 1/3 the calories) as another if it were made with apple or prune puree instead of butter or oil. Same with a salad: depends on how much oil, cheese, olives, etc. are in there. You can’t see how much oil from a photo. There are hundreds of recipes and ways to make just about every salad, sandwich, soup, etc.

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