Mandometer May be the Device Children need to Lose Weight

Weight loss continues to be a persistent goal for the majority of Americans and one of the New Year's resolutions that always seem to fall through the cracks. As we look for new ways to lose weight, eating slower may be the easiest, most appealing choice. Eating slower allows the brain to register the fact that the stomach is full and thus there is no biological need to eat more than necessary.

However, like all resolutions, theory is easier than practice. Most of us have an ingrained eating tempo, and modifying this behavior is not so easy. However, new reports are surfacing on a new computerized devise that not only tracks how fast we eat but also the size of the food portion we are consuming. And when the device is implemented as part of a standard weight lost program in children and teens, it does help them lose more weight than those who did not use the device.

The device is called a Mandometer and was developed at the famous Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The device provides real-time feedback to how fast we eat and the size of the food portion being eaten. The device actually tracks how quickly food disappears from a plate. The speed at which the food disappears is then compares to a graph that represents an ideal rate programmed by a food therapist at which the food should diminish. Research published today on bmj.com reports that a new computerized device that can track portion size and how fast people eat, is more successful in helping obese children and adolescents lose weight than standard treatments.

Led by Professor Judith Hamilton-Shield of Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, a study was conducted examining 106 children between 9 and 17 years of age. The participants were divided into two groups, both of which followed a therapy program to reduce and control weight that included physical exercise, encouragement to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and personal support. However, one group of children also included the use the Mandometer computer device to monitor speed and amount of food consumed.

After one year, the Mandometer group showed significantly lower average body mass index and body fat score than the standard care group. The children who used the device were eating at an 11 per cent slower rate, while the other group was actually eating 4% faster. And most importantly the Mandometer group had significantly higher levels of “good cholesterol”.

The most important metric though was that six months after the end of treatment, the children who worked with Mandometer had maintained their improved body mass index; implying a long-term behavioral change in how they ate. .


The researchers said: "Mandometer therapy, focusing 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. Retraining eating behavior and reinforcing feelings of satiety, however, does seem to improve weight loss in obese adolescents."

Childhood obesity is an increasing global problem. Furthermore, there is little evidence to support one particular treatment program. In this study the patients ate large portions very rapidly. However, it is unclear whether specific eating patterns are common in all obese people.


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