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    Proceeding a Healthier Life with AI? Researchers Scrutinise ChatGPT’s Capability as a Personal Nutritionist

    In today’s digital age, there has been a noticeable shift in public awareness towards the importance of maintaining a healthy diet. More individuals are carefully examining the internet for information on the nutritional content of the good. However, this increased awareness possibly poses a challenge to people as the easy access to numerous conflicting nutritional advice and unchecked sources on the internet may steer them away from a healthy lifestyle.

    Yen Nhi Hoang, from Taipei Medical University, School of Nutrition and Health Sciences, investigated the health information accuracy of the handy online AI tool “ChatGPT” with her team members, Jung-Su Chang and Dang Khanh Ngan Ho, among others. They compared the reliability of ChatGPT-3.5 and ChatGPT-4 in providing information on calorie and macronutrients, including carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

    The research identified minimal differences between nutritionist and AI estimations of energy, carbohydrate, and fat contents. Notably, there was a significant divis ion in protein estimation. Both chatbots accurately provided energy contents for approximately 35% to 48% of the 222 food items within ±10%, with a caffeine variation of less than 10%. It was observed that ChatGPT-4 outperformed in this aspect.

    Their research results showed that AI can undoubtedly be a useful and convenient tool for acquiring energy and macronutrient information. However, limitations include the AI having a knowledge cutoff of September 2021. In an interview with Nutrition Insight, Dr. Jung-Su Chang cautioned about the existence of “AI hallucination.” Depending on different chatroom environments, such as types of input language and clarity of the prompt, AI may provide convincing information that is factually incorrect. Chang also pointed out that it’s hard for average people to tell the reliability of the information the chatbot provided.

    “Currently, the capability of AI chatbots to provide personalized dietary advice, such as specific nutrition guidelines and exact portion sizes, is limited.” the research team warned.

    Despite this current limitation, AI chatbots could be a handy tool for nutritionists to quickly access nutrition information. Nonetheless, it’s remains challenging for AI chatbots to function independently as nutritionists.