New app calculates calories through photos of food

NEW YORK Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:53am EDT

1 of 2. A KFC 'Double Down' sandwich, consisting of bacon, cheese and a special sauce in between two slabs of fried chicken, is seen in Montreal October 19, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shaun Best

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Worried about how many calories you are going to consume in that slice of pizza, chocolate cake or bag of fries? A new iPhone application may help.

After taking a picture of the meal with the phone, the app gives a calorie read-out almost instantly.

The app, called MealSnap, was developed by DailyBurn, a fitness social network that has created several other fitness and diet-related iPhone applications.

Within minutes of taking a picture of a meal and matching it to a database of some 500,000 food items, the app sends users an alert with a range of calories for the meal that was photographed.

"The database can quickly help identity the food, how many calories there are, proteins, fat, carbs, vitamins, whatever you may want to know," said DailyBurn CEO Andy Smith. "Users can then choose to share what they've eaten on Twitter or FourSquare, leading to social accountability."

Smith added that calorie counting can be a very time consuming process. But the app makes it easier to track the calories in food.

"The pure act of tracking something can cause a psychological change that can help people on their health and fitness journey," he explained. "Just the simple fact of logging it makes me more aware of what I'm eating."

Additionally, MealSnap can serve as a food diary, allowing users to keep a visual log of the meals they have eaten.

"It's like a food journal, but easier. All you do is take the picture," Smith said.

MealSnap is available on the iTunes store for $2.99. (Reporting by Bernd Debusmann Jr., editing by Patricia Reaney)

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