Journal of Food Security
ISSN (Print): 2372-0115 ISSN (Online): 2372-0107 Website: Editor-in-chief: Apply for this position
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Journal of Food Security. 2017, 5(3), 66-74
DOI: 10.12691/jfs-5-3-2
Open AccessArticle

Photo-Texting, a Self-Assessment Technique for the Home Food Environment

Lesli Biediger-Friedman1, , Kristen Lines1 and Monica Silva1

1School of Family and Consumer Sciences Department, Texas State University, San Marcos City, USA

Pub. Date: June 02, 2017

Cite this paper:
Lesli Biediger-Friedman, Kristen Lines and Monica Silva. Photo-Texting, a Self-Assessment Technique for the Home Food Environment. Journal of Food Security. 2017; 5(3):66-74. doi: 10.12691/jfs-5-3-2


This paper explores a methodology of photo-texting to assess and improve upon the home food environment (HFE); a method which aims to engage participants with nutrition and food security among households. Various approaches to assessing and intervening within the HFE have demonstrated the efficacy of strengthening household food practices, improving food security, and dietary behaviors. However, public health practitioners face barriers in assessing the HFE. These include the intimate nature of the home setting, as well as the significant time, labor, and costs required to complete a comprehensive HFE assessment. Photo elicitation, though, provides a flexible strategy, while also empowering participants and conserving the resources of practitioners. This technique permits the collection of reflective self-assessments and provides a platform for goal setting. In this paper, we describe the step-by-step method of a photo elicitation technique that was developed to overcome the challenges with HFE research techniques. Furthermore, the described method may be beneficial as a practice tool to coach participants to self-assess their nutrition environment and to recognize behavioral factors within their homes and families. A pilot study of the photo-texting technique was implemented to identify lessons learned and illustrate feasibility. Results from the pilot study reveal participant engagement in all photo assignment, food and nutrition trends within the HFE, and effective goal setting techniques. Furthermore, participants reported favorable attitudes toward this technique of community-participatory research. There are many opportunities to facilitate effective HFE changes by utilizing the photo-texting technique and applying it to public health practice and research settings.

photo voice smartphones home food environment family meals community-based participatory research

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