High-tech scales help kids lose weight

Obese children can be helped to lose weight by using a computerised scale to train them to eat more slowly, UK research has shown.

The computerised scale measures the rate at which the food leaves the plate training the user to eat more slowly (Photograph: SPL)
The computerised scale measures the rate at which the food leaves the plate training the user to eat more slowly (Photograph: SPL)

Researchers from Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the University of Bristol assessed the effectiveness of the Mandometer device, a portable computerised weighing scale, in a trial of 106 obese patients aged between 9-17 years.

The device plots a graph showing the rate at which food actually disappears from the plate, compared with the ideal graph programmed by a food therapist.

Participants in the study either used the device or were given standard care. Both groups were encouraged to increase their levels of physical activity and to eat a balanced diet.

After 12 months, the Mandometer group had a significantly lower average body mass index and body fat score than the standard care group.

The researchers published their findings in the BMJ. They said the device appeared to be a useful addition to the options available for treating adolescent obesity without pharmacotherapy.

‘We believe that the device addresses a particular aspect of the eating behaviour associated with obesity — namely eating speed — inducing greater 'satiety responsiveness' as shown by the reduction in portion size determined by the participants at the end of therapy, with similar levels of satiety to baseline,' the researchers said.

 

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