Hi-tech sensors aim to help prevent obesity

Dubbed Splendid, the project aims to persuade youngsters to adopt healthier lifestyles and be more aware of their eating and exercise habits. It is part of a push to use technology to create preventative healthcare. Obesity causes an estimated 2.8 million deaths among adults around the world every year.
"The idea is that we try to investigate ways to prevent obesity and eating disorders," said Prof Anastasios Delopoulos, the project co-ordinator who works for the department of electrical and computer engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece.
The system will be tested on around 200 secondary school students in Sweden and another set of children in the Netherlands. Sensors will be used to measure the speed at which food is eaten as well as how food is chewed.
The time taken to consume food is one of the risk factors in obesity, according to Prof Delopoulos. It will be measured using a mandometer, from Swedish firm AB Mando, which is currently used in a handful of clinics set up to treat eating disorders.
The sensor comprises a scale connected to a portable computer or a smartphone. A plate of food is put on the scale and the rate at which it leaves the plate is recorded, with an audible warning if it is being eaten too quickly for the person to realise they are full.
Swiss firm CSEM is developing the other two sensors that will be used in the project. ActiSmile is a wearable sensor, which rewards the wearer with a smiley face when enough exercise has been done.