“What is that sleek looking bracelet you have?” “Oh, it just counts how much food I shovel into my face.”
The Bite Counter, a wristwatch-shaped device being marketed to weight-loss clinics and fitness professionals, uses technology developed by a ClemsonUniversity team for the military to track body movements in clearing buildings of insurgents in Iraq, Adam Hoover, an electrical engineering professor who handled the technical aspects of the design. It’s expected to be on the consumer market in about a year for about $100, he says.
Like a pedometer, it keeps count of a repetitive physical movement. But putting fork to mouth is more complex than walking. “A pedometer can’t tell what kind of motion you’re making. This tracks a very specific motion,” Hoover says.
The wrist rotation necessary to move a fork from plate to mouth turns out to be the critical motion in eating; the machine counts bites with 90% accuracy, he says. It also counts bites taken without the use of a fork or spoon, such as eating an apple; the rotation of the wrist is the same whether eating with the hands or utensils, Hoover says.
Hoover and his co-inventor, psychologist Eric Muth, have found that one bite generally averages about 25 calories. Muth says he eats about 80 bites a day — 20 each at breakfast and lunch and 40 at dinner. But the healthy number of bites can vary from one person to another, he adds. “The first thing is to make it obvious that they’re eating more than they think. If they know that, the behavior change will come a little easier.”
Pizza is a glaring loop hole!!