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Novel Gizmos for Weight Loss

Counting Bites

Novel Gizmos for Weight Loss

Posted on November 29, 2014 at 18:56 PM

Back in the days when I was trying to lose weight, it was all about liquid protein diets, the Atkins Diet, Weight Watchers, then Nutrisystem, diet pills — all that stuff.

I tried them all, but nothing worked. One day I found myself weighing 172 pounds, having yo-yoed between 140 pounds and 150 for nearly a decade. I wore size 22 dresses and disliked everything about my life, or lack of it. I felt self-conscious, and men avoided me.

In my thirties, I made a lifestyle change: I exercised more and ate in moderation — and lost the weight for good.

I lost the weight because I wanted to look and feel good again, not because of how my health would suffer if I continued to eat food that was high in sugar and fat.

I still believe that sustained and permanent weight loss is the result of making a lifestyle change, rather than fasting or the wholesale elimination of a food group unless you have an intolerance, allergy or a sensitivity to particular foods.

I also believe it would behoove us not to take notice of some relatively new, scientific and novel approaches to weight loss.

They all involve gizmos, or to be more proper about it medical technology devices. I find them intriguing; though some may be impractical for an individual trying to lose, say, 10 to 20 pounds. I say that because some of these gizmos are not discreet. If you’re eating in public, I’m sure you’d get some stares and possibly some questions from outsiders.

Nonetheless, two of the gizmos — the Mandometer and the Automatic Ingestion Monitor (AIM) — showed promising results in randomized trials lasting more than five months, according to a paper published in the November issue of Advances in Nutrition, an international peer-reviewed journal.

Automatic Ingestion Monitor

AIM tells you how fast you’re eating.

Both devices help individuals from overeating through biofeedback, a technique used to make people conscious of their behaviors in order to change them.

For example, the Mandometer, created by two doctors in Sweden, is like a speedometer for eating. The device weighs a plate of food before you begin eating, and then tracks the rate at which the food leaves the plate for your mouth. If it believes you’re eating too fast, you’ll hear a warning noise.

After a five-month trial, participants using the Mandometer had “more favorable eating outcomes in terms of decreased food intake and increased satiety….” and lost more weight compared to participants who did not use the device.

Interestingly, the Mandometer was successful in manipulating specific hormones that promote feelings of fullness. The Mandometer, which has been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, is available at clinics in New York City, Sweden and Australia.

AIM also helped individuals sense the point at which they should stop eating. This gizmo, which is not yet commercially available, is worn over your ear to sense the movement of your jaw and hand-to-mouth gestures as you eat.

Developed at the University of Alabama, AIM also prevents overeating by providing feedback that signals when enough food is enough. “This approach is promising because even small decrements in daily intake have been shown to induce weight loss,” according to the paper.

Bite Counter

Bite Counter is a watch-like device that counts bites of food.

Two other devices, which weren’t covered in the paper but are based on the same principle of monitoring eating behavior, are the $99 HAPIfork and Bite Counter. HAPIfork is an electronic fork that lights up and vibrates when there are less than 10 seconds between bites, while the Bite Counter, a wristwatch-like device developed at South Carolina’s Clemson University, does exactly that — counts bites of food. You can also program Bite Counter to tell you when to stop eating.

I favor these devices because they are based on established theories of how hormones and the nervous system interact to regulate eating behaviors. When you think about it, first we had food diaries, but they’re inaccurate and don’t provide feedback other than you’ve consumed more than you should after adding up your caloric intake.

With diet devices, such as AIM and the Bite Counter, you get objective information that is automated and provides real-time feedback. Now, that’s something to chew on.



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