Health officials trying to reduce obesity and improve eating habits at five San Antonio elementary schools unveiled a $2 million research project Wednesday that will photograph students' lunch trays before they sit down to eat and later take a snapshot of the leftovers.
A computer program then analyzes the photos to identify every piece of food on the plate—right down to how many ounces are left in that lump of mash potatoes—and calculates the number of calories each student scarfed down.
The project, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in the nation. The cameras, about the size of pocket flashlights, point only toward the trays and don't photograph the students. Researchers say about 90 percent of parents gave permission to record every morsel of food their child eats.