A free picture database for the study of eating and appetite in research

Food-pics: A database of free images of food for experimental research

The "making of":

2014: Jens Blechert, Adrian Meule, Kathrin Ohla and Niko Busch, developed a freely available database of food images and associated normative data for the study of eating and appetite. Much research in this field is relying on visual stimulation with food images using methods such as EEG, MEG and fMRI. These neurocognitive methods are sensitive to visual properties such as complexity, brightness, contrast, etc of the images. Likewise, food composition is now understood to modulate neural responses. Therefore, we included data on calories and nutrients in the image database. Also subjective evaluations such as liking (palatability) and wanting (desire to eat) are important parameters that vary with age, body weight, gender and culture. To facilitate informed decisions during selection of food images we provide normative subjective rating data for European and North-american populations of different age ranges, BMI classes and gender.

2018: As some users have expressed interest in an extension of the database to include a more international selection of images, we asked our users to contribute to food-pics. Several colleagues* did so, thanks for your openness and support! By using their copy right free images and by editing and standardizing them we were able to extend food-pics by further 328 images. These are at your disposition now with associated image properties like color, size, contrast and complexity (further image parameters will possibly follow in future) under the old licence. Of course again with the request to cite us and and to spread the word.

2022: A team of researchers** developed fiber ratings for the images of the 2014 image collection, based on mean values of four non-expert raters. The provided fiber ratings were included in the database to enrich it by an important nutrient value. More information about the fiber ratings can be found in the following article: Medawar, E., et al (2022).

More details:

Today, contains 896 photos displaying food items with simple figure-ground composition, including sweet and tasty foods, high and low calorie, warm and cold dishes, processed and raw foods. It also contains 315 comparable non-food images. Example images for food and non-food categories here

The following attributes are specified for each food picture:

  • Nutrients: mg of fiber, protein, fat & carbohydrates, kcal (only for the image of the 2014 image collection)

  • Rating data (palatability, desire to eat, complexity, recognizability, valence, arousal by almost 2000 participants from German speaking countries and North America), (only for the image of the 2014 image collection)

  • Image properties: R/G/B values, brightness, contrast, complexity (edge detection), luminance, spectral power. Matlab scripts here.

License and Download:

Reference and Citation:

By downloading the files, you agree to the license agreement.

* Many thanks to our food-pics_extended contributors:

Medawar, E., et al (2022).

Loïc P. Heurley, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Nanterre, France

Jang-Han Lee, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, Korea

Gal Sheppes, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Loukia Tzavella, Cardiff University, Wales, UK

Olga Pollatos, Universität Ulm, Ulm, Germany

Vaibhav Tyagi, Plymouth University, Devon, UK

**Also many thanks to the team of researchers who provided the fiber ratings and the WHO food classification:

Medawar, E., Thieleking, R., & Witte, A.V. (2022) Dietary Fiber and WHO Food Categories Extension for the Food-Pics_Extended Database. Frontiers in Psychology 13:818471. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.818471