Snapping photos of meals helps control diabetes: Study

Photography enthusiasts taking photographs of a spread of food on July 28 2012. The popular habit of snapping photos of food has proved helpful in keeping diabetes in check. -- MY FILE PHOTO: JAMIE KOH
Photography enthusiasts taking photographs of a spread of food on July 28 2012. The popular habit of snapping photos of food has proved helpful in keeping diabetes in check. -- MY FILE PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

The popular habit of snapping photos of food has proved helpful in keeping diabetes in check.

Not only did patients' blood sugar levels improve, they also lost weight in about six months, a National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) study has found.

Patients are usually given advice on what and how much to eat. But they may not remember everything, said family physician Darren Seah. For example, how much food constitutes "one portion" may be unclear.

To tackle this problem, doctors asked 38 diabetics to take photos of every meal they ate for three days. The patients then presented the photos at the next check-up, helping dietitians better estimate their diet, said Dr Seah.

The group of diabetics, who had an average age of 57, saw a drop in body mass index from an average of 26.8 to 26.2 - which was deemed significant. This meant that a 1.7m person weighing 77kg, for example, would have lost about 2kg.

Last year, over 280,000 visits to NHGP doctors - 14 per cent of the total - were made by patients with Type-2 diabetes. Said Dr Seah: "This (photo-taking practice) is something we can consider introducing, since more and more people have access to cameras."

The project is one of the finalists in a contest at the Singapore Health and Biomedical Congress next week. One of them, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, found that hip fracture patients who had less than three weeks of rehabilitation recovered better than those on longer therapy.

The Institute of Mental Health has found that mental patients who are discharged settled better at home after an eight-week programme which involved regular phone calls to the patient.

chpoon@sph.com.sg