Standardized food images: A photographing protocol and image database

Charbonnier, Lisette, van Meer, Floor, van der Laan, Laura N., Viergever, Max A., Smeets, Paul A M


Appetite 96 p. 166-173


The regulation of food intake has gained much research interest because of the current obesity epidemic. For research purposes, food images are a good and convenient alternative for real food because many dietary decisions are made based on the sight of foods. Food pictures are assumed to elicit anticipatory responses similar to real foods because of learned associations between visual food characteristics and post-ingestive consequences. In contemporary food science, a wide variety of images are used which introduces between-study variability and hampers comparison and meta-analysis of results. Therefore, we created an easy-to-use photographing protocol which enables researchers to generate high resolution food images appropriate for their study objective and population. In addition, we provide a high quality standardized picture set which was characterized in seven European countries. With the use of this photographing protocol a large number of food images were created. Of these images, 80 were selected based on their recognizability in Scotland, Greece and The Netherlands. We collected image characteristics such as liking, perceived calories and/or perceived healthiness ratings from 449 adults and 191 children. The majority of the foods were recognized and liked at all sites. The differences in liking ratings, perceived calories and perceived healthiness between sites were minimal. Furthermore, perceived caloric content and healthiness ratings correlated strongly (r ≥ 0.8) with actual caloric content in both adults and children. The photographing protocol as well as the images and the data are freely available for research use on By providing the research community with standardized images and the tools to create their own, comparability between studies will be improved and a head-start is made for a world-wide standardized food image database.