Can this fridge actually help you lose weight?

With an estimated 33% of school age children described as obese, and reports of gastric bands being offered to kids under the age of 18, researchers are coming up with many differing ideas and advice as to how to lose weight. Step forward the latest in electrical innovations – a fridge that can monitor what you are eating and help you choose the more healthy options.

Photograph: Steve Prezant/Corbis

Photograph: Steve Prezant/Corbis

In designing the new fridge, Indian researcher – Michael Nicod – spent several months in the homes of families he did not know, and studied exactly what those families ate. They got past the assumptions that the family would tailor their eating due to the presence of the researchers, by assuming that after a certain amount of time, the families would revert back to their normal eating patterns. Nicod said: “We reckon that after 10 days of such a discreet and incurious presence, the most sensitive housewife, busy with her children, settles down to her routine menus.”

Conducting the research on behalf of Britain’s Department of Health and Social Security in 1974. He and his colleague, University College London professor Mary Douglas, wrote a report called Taking the Biscuit: The Structure of British Meals. The pair wanted to establish exactly was the structure of a British person’s diet was.

The pair drew on their training as anthropologists: “We imagined a dietician in an unknown Papuan or African tribe wondering how to introduce a new, reinforcing element into tribal diet. We assumed that the dietician’s first task would be to discover how the tribe ‘structured’ their food.”

Nicod lived as a lodger with “four working-class families where the head was engaged in unskilled manual labour”, in East Finchley, Durham, Birmingham and Coventry. He stayed in each place at least a month, “watching every mouthful and sharing whenever possible”.

A patent application was filed by the Indian researchers in 2010 for a “refrigerator for obese persons”. The fridge monitors “all eating and drinking”, and dispenses diet advice. Also, “a reflecting mirror film on the door makes the person to control overeating as soon as he stands before the fridge”.

This new device is not the first electrical machine that has been designed to control the eating habits of obese people. In 2006, Mariana Simons-Nikolova and Maarten Bodlaender of the Netherlands applied for a patent for an electro-mechanical process they call Modifying a person’s eating and activity habits. Their video/computer system would monitor an individual’s head and hands to detect when they were eating. It would then announce to them via the TV or computer, “You Are Now Eating”.

Simons-Nikolova and Bodlaender explain: “By providing the feedback when the subject is still eating or drinking, the subject is helped to stop the eating or drinking sooner than if no feedback had been given.”

A 2008 patent by three Israeli inventors describes “a sensor which detects: (a) the patient swallowing, (b) the filling of the patient’s stomach, and/or (c) the onset of contractions in the stomach as a result of eating”. Electric current can then, for dietary reasons, be “driven into muscle tissue of the subject’s stomach”. This “induces in the subject a sensation of satiation, discomfort, nausea, or vertigo”.

Source: The Guardian

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