Anthropology 220, Online
Energy Balance Final Project Information and Guidelines
Your final project will be graded according to the rubrics and information provided in our
syllabus, in the Final Project module, and in my announcements. First, please read the
Information and Guidelines for the Research Final Project. Your Energy Balance Project will
follow the same basic guidelines.
In this project, you will record and analyze your own dietary intake over a 3-day period using the
SuperTracker online software provided by the USDA, and you own energy expenditure over a 3day period using the information provided in the Energy Balance Appendix. There are three
main goals to this project:
1) to analyze your diet in terms of energy intake, nutrient intake, and other concepts
discussed and read about in our course.
2) to analyze your energy expenditure in terms of activity and in relation to energy intake
and other concepts discussed and read about in our course.
3) to critically evaluate the SuperTracker software program based on your personal
You will communicate your findings in a formal scientific written report that must include the
following five sections: Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results, Discussion, and
Conclusions. Since this is a complex assignment, I am providing you with detailed guidelines for
each section of your report, an separate file that explains what information goes into each section
of a scientific report found in the Final Project Information module, an example of several
sections at the end of this document, and several exemplars.
Step 1: Get prepared
1. Set up your dietary analysis profile at www.supertracker.usda.gov/. You will be using the
Food Tracker portion of the site. Play around with this program and familiarize yourself it. This
will make your data collection and entry much easier. Make the necessary copies of data
collection forms (see below) and decide which days you plan to collect data. Try to choose 3
days that will be representative of your usual food intake and will give you plenty of time for
your data analysis. They can be consecutive days, but do not have to be. From the date of
introducing this project, you only have about nine weeks to collect, organize, analyze, and write
your data. We suggest getting started now, collecting your data over three consecutive days, and
having data ready to analyze before your second progress paper is due.
2. Write a (or a few) prediction(s) and your dietary goal. Do you think you are in perfect,
negative, or positive energy balance? Why? Are you getting enough protein? Fats? Lipids?
Step 2: Collect the data
1. Maintain a record of your food intake for any 3 days. You may use the dietary intake sheet we
have provided, but you do not have to (i.e. use whatever works best for you). Be as accurate as
possible in describing the types of foods and the quantities consumed. Keep in mind that the
SuperTracker software may expect quantities recorded in weight (grams, ounces, etc.), serving
size (cups, teaspoons, etc.) or number of whole items (1 medium apple, 1 large orange, etc.).
What if you can’t find values for a particular food? What if you cannot weigh you food? Use the
closest weight or approximation you can find, and clearly and concisely explain your selection in
your methods section.
2. Maintain a record of your energy expenditure for the same 3 days as your food intake record.
You may use the energy expenditure sheet we have provided, but you do not have to. Be as
accurate as possible in recording every activity that you are involved in. This includes sleep, rest,
study, eating, and activity of any nature. You will need to record the duration of activity (in
minutes), and the intensity of the activity (light, moderate, high). You will later use the appendix
to calculate energy expenditure. What if you cannot find a specific activity in the appendix, or
one that reflects the correct attributes for that activity? Use the closest activity you can find, and
clearly and concisely explain your selection in your methods section.
3. As you record and enter your data, keep notes on your own experiences with this assignment.
How easy or difficult is it to accurately record your food intake and energy expenditure? How
easy or difficult is it to use the SuperTracker software? Are all the foods in your diet and all the
activities in your day easily found in the software program and in the appendix and the
information provided? Do you think your results are accurate, or reflective of your dietary
choices and activity levels? Are the results suprising? How can you use the results to better
achieve your dietary goals? How does the results, or the process, relate to our course lectures and
readings? How can you situate this project into a larger Nutritional Anthropology perspective?
Describing these experiences will be an important part of your final report (i.e. in your
Step 3: Write the methods and materials section
After completing the data collection and before doing any analysis, write the methods section of
your report, i.e., a detailed description of how you collected the data. Why should the methods be
written before the results are analyzed? It is good practice in scientific research to write out the
methods (at least as notes) immediately so that nothing is forgotten, and so analysis of the results
does not influence one’s memory of the methods.
Describe the dates, locations, software and/or equipment used; as well as any exceptions,
inconsistencies, or changes to the procedures during the project. Be sure to explain how
quantities were measured or estimated at home, in restaurants, etc., and how accurate you were
able to be. Remember, methods should be clear and detailed enough that another person could
read them as if they were instructions (or a recipe ;-), and repeat the procedures exactly the same
way that you did in your project.
Step 4: Analyze the data
Before you can write the next section of your report, you must analyze the data and think about
what you want to write. To complete this part of the project you will use the Food Tracker
portion of the SuperTracker software, the energy expenditure and activity information in the
Energy Balance appendix, and Microsoft Excel or a comparable program to generate tables and
figures. Here are the steps you should follow in your data analysis:
1. Dietary intake and Energy Expenditure. Analyze your food intake by determining total energy
intake (kilocalories), macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein, fat) distribution and quantities
consumed each day, and as a 3-day average. The Food Tracker program provides this
information. Do this same analysis for your energy expenditure using the information provided
in the appendix. You will have to calculate your energy expenditure, so be sure to input your
data into Microsoft Excel to easily calculate your values. You should calculate energy
expenditure each day and as a 3-day average.
2. Comparisons to recommendations for nutrient intakes. Using the “Nutrient Intake Report” link
in Food Tracker, compare your energy and nutrient intakes with the recommended values (DRI).
Specifically, you should record energy intake (kcal), and each of the macronutrients (protein,
fats, and carbohydrates). Do the comparisons for each day and for the 3-day averages.
3. Comparison of your energy intake and your energy expenditure values. Using Microsoft Excel
or a similar program, how does your energy expenditure compare to your energy intake? Do the
comparison for each day and for the 3-day averages. Although it is not required, you may decide
to run a correlation coefficient analysis on your 3 days of data (the totals for each day). If so, y
can include the r-value in your results section. You may also want to include a scatter plot graph
to illustrate the correlation, and / or a table.
4. For all other data, use Microsoft Excel or a similar program to generate figures or tables. Both
figures and tables are required, they need to be labeled, clear, easy to understand, and highlight
what you believe are the most interesting findings.
Step 5: Write the results section
In this section, summarize the findings of your analysis both in written word and using tables
and figures. This is not the place to discuss your interpretations or feelings about the results. It is
the place to simply present the results and highlight the most important and interesting findings
for the reader. Why can’t the results section include comments and interpretation? It is good
scientific practice to keep the actual results separate from the interpretation so the reader can
evaluate the results before the writer’s opinions are introduced.
Summarize the results in written form. As you are summarizing your results in writing, refer to
relevant tables and figures. You should use the tables and figures to help you highlight the most
interesting findings, and direct the reader to more detailed information. You do not need to
reiterate any information that is provided in a table or graph, simply refer the reader to the
Tables and figures: These should be numbered consecutively, and be in the same order that they
are mentioned in the text. Each table should have a number and title at the top which clearly
describes what it presents. For example, “Table 1. Daily energy and nutrient intakes” or “Table
2. Daily energy expenditure” or “Figure 1. Protein intake relative to DRI recommendation.” All
columns in a table or graph should have headers clearly indicating contents and units of measure
used. A table should have all of its columns and rows on the same page; in other words, tables
should not cut across page breaks. Likewise, figures should have all axes clearly labeled and
should appear on a single page. Also, be sure to create a key for any differently colored
components of your figure (e.g. different shades or patterns of lines or bars).
Step 6: Write the discussion
This is the place to interpret, discuss and explain what you found, and describe how your
methods influenced your findings. The discussion is arguably the most important part of your
report, since it explains the “so what” of your research. At the very minimum, the discussion
should address the following points:
• Was your predictions (or hypotheses) on Energy Balance supported? Was this surprising
in any way? If so, why? What would you plan to change if anything? How would you
propose that change?
• Were you surprised about any of your other results? If so, what surprised you and why? If
• What problems/difficulties/inconveniences did you encounter in collecting the data? Did
the actual process of data collection affect your food intake or energy expenditure in any
way? If so, how?
• How accurate were you able to be? Were there any circumstances that influenced your
accuracy? Unexpected visitors to your home? Traveling? Work scheduling? Were there
problems with the SuperTracker software? If so, how did they influence your results?
• How representative are the data of your usual food intake and energy expenditure
patterns? Were there unforeseen circumstances that resulted in abnormal food intake or
• How much day-to-day variation in energy expenditure and intake do your records show?
Are your days consistent, or are there major differences from day to day? If there are
• How do your energy expenditure and intake values compare with the recommendations
(DRI, etc)? What, if anything, do these comparisons tell you about the adequacy of your
diet and activity levels?
• Based on your experience, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the USDA’s
SuperTracker program? In what ways was it easy or difficult to use the program? This
program is designed to be quick, simple, and intuitive for all members of the public to
analyze their energy balance – specifically in terms of the dietary recommendations. Has
the programs succeeded in this goal? Do you think the programs can be a useful tool for
improving the nutritional quality and health of diets in the United States? How about
outside the United States?
• How does your results and your predictions relate to our course (lectures and readings). I
what ways do our readings provide new perspective to interpret your results? How can
you explore your results and this project from a biocultural nutritional perspective?
Step 7: Write the introduction and title
The introduction should provide a little background information including what the report is
about, why it is important and why the reader should find it interesting, how it relates to aspects
of our course (the lecture and reading material you have learned). Because you provided at least
one prediction(s), you should present your prediction(s) in the introduction. After reading the
introduction, the reader should have a clear idea of what to expect in the rest of the report. A
‘Title’ for your report has two important functions. 1) Your title should tell the reader what the
report will be about, and 2) your title should catch the attention of the reader. Give your title a bit
of thought. Why write the introduction and title last? So you know what you are introducing!
Step 9: Write the conclusion
This is where you tied everything together in a few lines, and present a final take away message.
This can easily be done in a paragraph because you really can only conclude one of three things:
(1) you found what you expected to find; (2) you found something you did not expect to find; (3)
you found some combination of 1 and 2. Add a few more sentences briefly describing your final
verdict regarding the SuperTracker program and how you incorporated the course material into
your project (the culture of food).
Step 10: Add the references cited
It is likely that you will want to refer to outside sources in writing your report (e.g., lectures,
discussions, readings, websites, etc.). If so, list them under your references cited section. Do not
forget, anything that you use (reference material including the websites you use for the energy
balance project) should be cited and referenced. You should at least cite material lecture
(including our Energy Balance appendix), and the SuperTracker software you use for this
project. For citations in the text, use the standard format used in the American Journal of
Physical Anthropology, or American Journal of Human Biology. For example, when you cite a
source in your paper (e.g. in your methods and materials section), you should include the author
and the date of the publication. For example, you might cite our files or lectures as According to Ulibarri (2017), energy balance is….
Total daily energy expenditure was calculated by using the Metabolic Equivalent of Tasks table
provided to our class (Ulibarri & Sloan, 2016).
When you cite a source, you need to include that reference in the References Cited section at the
end of your paper. In your References be sure to include the author, the date, the title of the file
or lecture, the course, the campus, and the location. For example, you might reference our files
or lectures as Ulibarri, L. (2017). Lecture 1, Basics of Nutritional Anthropology. Anth. 220, Nutritional
Anthropology. University of Oregon.
Step 11: Putting the report together
You should now have everything you need to assemble the report. All text should be typed
(double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point font). The length of your paper will partly depend on
the detail you provide, the number of graphs and charts you make, and the thought put into your
discussion. Typically, your report will be 10 pages long. It can be longer, but remember to be
concise! It can also be shorter, but that should not sacrifice detail. The report should consist of
the following sections in the order listed:
• Title and your name (you do not need a cover page, but you can do this if you want)
• Text with each section titled:
• Methods and materials
• References Cited
• Tables (both in numerical order and same order as mentioned in text)*
• Figures (both in numerical order and same order as mentioned in text)*
• Data collection sheets attached as an appendix (these are provided in Information sheet
part 2). These can be in written form, or printed if you use Excel or a similar program.
• Anything else you might want to include
• Keep your electronic file. If your paper is top quality (the top 3 papers in our class), we
will request an electronic copy to use as an exemplar for a future term. Your paper will be
a citable resource for future students. I will also award bonus points to the top three
papers upon receiving the electronic copy. For an assignment worth 80 points, that is not
*Tables and figures can either be presented in text or as an attached appendix at the end of the
report. Even if they are in the appendix, they need to be in the same order that they are
mentioned in the text.
EXAMPLE METHODS & RESULTS
Here is an example Methods and Results sections to assist you in your writing. Please also view
the exemplars for more complete examples. Note that this is just an example meant to give you
an idea of what these sections should look like – your own sections will probably be different
based on what you did and what you found. Although you can refer to these examples, be sure to
write your paper in your own words. Also, please remember that tables and figures are
REQUIRED, as is your prediction (or hypothesis) about your energy balance (and for any other
aspect of diet that you are interested in, e.g. protein intake, energy expenditure, etc.), and a
discussion about that hypothesis.
Methods: remember that the goal of this section is to let the reader know exactly how you
collected and analyzed the data. Ideally, the reader should be able to reproduce your experiment
step-by-step; s/he should never be left thinking, “I wonder how the author came up these data.”
Importantly, you need to explain how you handled any deviations from your original data
collection plan, such as misplacing a dietary intake sheet, recording foods that are not listed in
the SuperTracker database, etc.
Results: the goal here is to simply present the data in a clear way, without additional commentary
or interpretation (that comes in the Discussion). Here I have just included data for energy and
macronutrient intake, but it should give you a good idea of how to report your other results as
well (micronutrients, comparison to recommendations, etc.). Focus on the main results (e.g.,
energy intake, macro/micronutrient intake), but also include any additional results you found
interesting. In the example, I talk about the types of fats consumed, but you do not necessarily
need to do this – for instance, perhaps you discovered a lot of day-to-day variability in sodium
intake, or an unexpectedly low intake of Vitamin C across the board, etc. You get to decide on
what is interesting, based on the knowledge you have gained in class.
EXAMPLE METHODS AND RESULTS SECTION BELOW
Dietary intake data and energy expenditure for this project were collected from a single
participant for 3 consecutive days beginning on Monday, May 16, 2016 and ending on
Wednesday, May 18, 2016. These days were chosen in order to obtain a representative sample
of weekday dietary patterns. All data were collected while the participant was at home, at
restaurants and on the UO campus in the city of Eugene, Oregon. All data were analyzed using
the Food Tracker component of the USDA’s SuperTracker online database (a link is provided in
the references under USDA, 2016) as well as the information and physical activity sheets
provided in the Anthropology 220 Nutritional Anthropology course (Ulibarri & Sloan, 2016;
USDA, 2 ...
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