High Tech Gadgets Help Moderate Food Intake

By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Losing weight can be a real challenge, but now there is high tech help available to help moderate the amount of food eaten.

The Mandometer is a device that weighs the food you put on a plate. It then tells you how much to eat, and over how much time. If you eat too fast, you get an electronic warning advising that you need to slow down.

Dan Correa has used it to help him lose 30 pounds, but admits “I’ve asked it to shut up a few times.”

Studies show that eating too fast can cause weight gain.

Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University, said “It is going to take 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full, and if you are eating so rapidly, you could over eat and take in more calories than you really need to be satisfied.”

Another high tech option is the Bite Counter. It literally counts each time a bite is taken. The computer allows the user to set the count, and read the results on a wrist device.

Psychologist Eric Muth developed this device after struggling with his weight. If a person eats more than a pre-programmed number of bites, an alarm goes off.

“We showed that if you tracked the bites, you could indeed slow a person’s eating, and that did indeed reduce intake,” added Muth.

That’s also the theory behind the “Hapi-Fork”. This electronic utensil vibrates and flashes a red light if the eater takes bites less than ten seconds apart. A mobile app keeps track.

Salge Blake believes these devices could be helpful, but put too much focus on quantity, and not on quality. “It is great that you have a slower pace, but we don’t want you slowly eating a pint of ice cream either. So it’s what’s on the plate that’s important. That’s where the nutrition component comes in.”

There is still value in some old school methods of moderating food consumption. Studies show using smaller plates leads to smaller portions because the plate looks full with less food.

Serving dinner family style is a no-no. Salge Blake said, “Create a plate, bring it to the table to eat it, and that’s done.” No second helpings allowed.

Another proven strategy is to keep a detailed food log of everything that is consumed. Salge Blake said that makes a person really think before eating something.

MORE HEALTH NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON

More from Dr. Mallika Marshall
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