New 'gobble-o-meter' may help curb childhood obesity

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London, Jan 6 (ANI): A machine that tells people how much to eat and how fast to eat it can prove to be a helpful tool in combating childhood obesity, says a new study.

According to research published on today, the computerized device, Mandometer, can help to retrain individuals to eat less and more slowly by providing real-time feedback during meal times.

The portable computerized weighing scale was developed at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. It's working: the device plots a graph showing the rate at which food actually disappears from the plate, compared to the ideal graph programmed in by a food therapist.

To substantiate their claims, researchers at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children and the University of Bristol, led by Professor Julian Hamilton-Shield, carried out a randomised controlled trial of 106 obese patients aged between 9-17 years.

One group of participants received Mandometer therapy to lose weight and the other were provided with standard care. Both groups were encouraged to increase their levels of physical activity to 60 minutes of exercise a day and to eat a balanced diet based on the Food Standards Agency "eatwell plate."

Participants were assessed after 12 months and followed up at 18 months. During the research period they were also regularly monitored and offered telephone support and encouragement.

After 12 months, the Mandometer group not only had a significantly lower average body mass index and body fat score than the standard care group, but their portion size was smaller and their speed of eating was reduced by 11 percent compared with a gain of 4 percent in the other group. Levels of 'good cholesterol' were also significantly higher in the Mandometer group.

The improvement in body mass index was maintained six months after the end of treatment, suggesting an element of longer term behavioural change, add the authors.

"Mandometer therapy, focussing on eating speed and meal size, seems to be a useful addition to the rather sparse options available for treating adolescent obesity effectively without recourse to pharmacotherapy," say the authors. (ANI)

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