Quantifying Accurate Calorie Estimation Using the " Think Aloud" Method

Michael E. Holmstrup, Kay Stearns-Bruening, Jeffrey Rozelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Clients often have limited time in a nutrition education setting. An improved understanding of the strategies used to accurately estimate calories may help to identify areas of focused instruction to improve nutrition knowledge. Methods: A " Think Aloud" exercise was recorded during the estimation of calories in a standard dinner meal (415 kcal) in 15 nutrition-trained and 15 untrained subjects. Accuracy of participant estimation was assessed, and estimation strategies were compared in accurate vs inaccurate estimators. Results: Accurate participants were more likely to demonstrate an ability to convert between common portion size measurements and serving sizes, possess some knowledge of energy density, and properly implement basic math skills. Conclusions and Implications: The " Think Aloud" methodology was informative in assessing the cognitive processes behind a nutrition exercise, and further use is warranted. Focused instruction in portion size conversion, energy density, and the use of math skills may enhance calorie estimation accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-81
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • Adult
  • Decision making
  • Estimation techniques
  • Size perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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