How can we help students to improve their eating habits?  We continue to come up with all kinds of interesting and creative approaches.  The latest is a camera that snaps a picture of students' trays and does a calorie assessment of it.  This project is taking place at five San Antonio elementary schools for approximately 2 million dollars.  Each student's tray has a bar code.  The tray is snapped before and after the meal to tally what and how much each student ate.  There are mixed reviews on this camera method.

Those if Favor:

  Proponents of this technology say that it is a quick way to obtain an enormous amount of data about students' eating behavior.  It makes researching their habits and doing experiments on healthy eating one step easier.  You could potentially give parents raw data on what their kids are consuming.  In the future, this kind of technology could give older students immediate feedback on how much they are eating and specifically their calorie intake.  Even those who are educated in nutrition often underestimate how much they eat.

The Critics:  Those opposed to this camera say it is "too big brother" watching and recording every choice made.  Also, simply giving kids and young adults their calorie intake doesn't teach them about what is healthy and what is not. Calorie count tells you only a little about the nutrition value. So, what will be done with the information? Critics also say that the money could have been better spent providing better food options for these kids.  Why give kids unhealthy options and then study them?

Feel free to weigh in on this debate.  Best idea ever, nice effort but unlikely to work or somewhere in between? 

Let's also extrapolate this to adults.  Imagine that you had a camera taking a picture of everything you ate.  What impact would it have on you?  Would it make you much more mindful and aware of what you eat or would it make you self-conscious and anxious? There are already a few food apps that do a similar function like Daily Burn's Food Scanner. 

Wave of the future or not?

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Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic specializing in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns, and mindfulness. She is the author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful, and Mindful Eating 101 and is a Huffington Post and Psychology Today blogger. Her books have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Natural Health, Self Magazine and on the Dr. Oz TV show. Visit Albers online at


About the Author

Susan Albers, Psy.D.

Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns and mindfulness. 

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