Food Folio by Columbia Center for Eating Disorders: A Freely Available Food Image Database

Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020)
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Abstract

Food images are useful stimuli for the study of cognitive processes as well as eating behavior. To enhance rigor and reproducibility in task-based research, it is advantageous to have stimulus sets that are publicly available and well characterized. Food Folio by Columbia Center for Eating Disorders is a publicly available set of 138 images of Western food items. The set was developed for the study of eating disorders, particularly for use in tasks that capture eating behavior characteristic of these illnesses. It contains foods that are typically eaten, as well as those typically avoided, by individuals with eating disorders. Each image has now been rated across 17 different attributes by a large general United States population sample via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Ratings included subjective attributes as well as estimates of nutrient content. Each participant rated a subset of stimulus set food items on all 17 dimensions. Additional description of the image set is provided in terms of physical image information and accurate nutritional information. Correlations between subjective ratings were calculated and an exploratory factor analysis and exploratory cluster analysis completed. Outcomes of the factor analysis suggested foods may be described along three latent factors of healthiness, tastiness, and umami taste; the cluster analysis highlighted five distinct clusters of foods varying on these same dimensions. Descriptive outcomes indicated that the stimulus set includes a range of foods that vary along multiple dimensions and thus is likely to be useful in addressing various research questions surrounding eating behavior and cognition in healthy populations, as well as in those with eating disorders. The provision of comprehensive descriptive information allows for stimulus selection that is optimized for a given research question and promotes strong inference.

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