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Trattner Christoph, Elsweiler David, Howard Simon

Estimating the Healthiness of Internet recipes: Implications for Recommender Systems and Meal Planning

British Medical Journal (BMJ) , Frontiers in Public Health, 2016

One government response to increasing incidence of lifestyle related illnesses, such as obesity, has been to encourage people to cook for themselves. The healthiness of home cooking will, nevertheless, depend on what people cook and how they cook it. In this article one common source of cooking inspiration - Internet-sourced recipes - is investigated in depth. The energy and macronutrient content of 5237 main meal recipes from the food website are compared with those of 100 main meal recipes from five bestselling cookery books from popular celebrity chefs and 100 ready meals from the three leading UK supermarkets. The comparison is made using nutritional guidelines published by the World Health Organisation and the UK Food Standards Agency. The main conclusions drawn from our analyses are that Internet recipes sourced from are less healthy than TV-chef recipes and ready meals from leading UK supermarkets. Only 6 out of 5237 Internet recipes fully complied with the WHO recommendations. Internet recipes were more likely to meet the WHO guidelines for protein than both other classes of meal (10.88% v 7% (TV), p<0.01; 10.86% v 9% (ready), p<0.01). However, the Internet recipes were less likely to meet the criteria for fat (14.28% v 24% (TV) v 37% (ready); p<0.01), saturated fat (25.05% v 33% (TV) v 34% (ready); p<0.01) and fibre (compared to ready meals 16.50% v 56%; p<0.01). More Internet recipes met the criteria for sodium density than ready meals (19.63% v 4%; p<0.01), but fewer than the TV-chef meals (19.32% v 36%; p<0.01). For sugar, no differences between Internet recipes and TV-chef recipes were observed (81.1% v 81% (TV); p=0.86), although Internet recipes were less likely to meet the sugar criteria than ready meals (81.1% v 83 % (ready); p<0.01). Repeating the analyses for each year of available data shows that the results are very stable over time.

Trattner Christoph, Schäfer Hanna, Said Alan, Ludwig Bernd, Elsweiler David

Proceedings of the International Workshop on Engendering Health

10th ACM Conference on Recommender Systems, ACM, Boston, 2016

Busy lifestyles, abundant options, lack of knowledge ... there are many reasons why people make poor decisions relating to their health. Yet these poor decisions are leading to epidemics, which represent some of the greatest challenges we face as a society today. Noncommunicable Diseases (NCDs), which include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes, account for ∼60% of total deaths worldwide. These diseases share the same four behavioural risk factors: tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful consumption of alcohol and can be prevented and sometimes even reversed with simple lifestyle changes. Eating more healthily, exercising more appropriately, sleeping and relaxing more, as well as simply being more aware of one’s state of health are all things that would lead to improved health. Yet knowing exactly what to change and how, implementing changes and maintaining changes over long time periods are all things people find challenging. These are also problems, for which we believe recommender systems can provide assistance by offering specific, tailored suggestions for behavioural change. In recent years recommender systems for health has become a popular topic within the RecSys community and a selection of empirical contributions and demo systems have been published. Efforts to date, however have been sporadic and lack coordination. We lack shared infrastructure such as datasets, appropriate cross-disciplinary knowledge, even agreed upon goals. It is our aim to use this workshop as a vehicle to:
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