Could Wearable Technology Hold The Key To Beating Obesity?
One of the problems that health professionals encounter is the unreliability of food diaries to record people’s food choices, mainly because there is a tendency for people not be completely honest.
The majority of people do not make healthy food choices all of the time and decide that it is better not to write down that they had the last bit of Nutella spread on a piece of sliced white toast the night before. So instead they might say that they had one slice of wholegrain toast with a light smear of the healthiest spread possible.
This is human nature of course, but unfortunately, it is difficult to determine how to change someone’s diet if the real food choices are not on there.
Scientists have designed specially- programmed Smartwatches to monitor family members emotions and eating behaviours for a study on obesity.
They want to focus on mood and eating behaviour rather than on dietary intake. The theory behind this being that how our emotions, help determine what are food choices are.
Family members partaking in the study all wear the smartwatches on their wrists. The device is able to pick up wrist movements to detect a person’s eating behaviours, including when, how long and how fast they eat.
This is significant, because the faster a person eats, the more likely they are to overeat, when we are full the stomach sends a signal to our brain to tell us we are full, if we eat too quickly, it does not get chance to do this, and so chewing and digesting our food slowly is vital if we are overweight.
During the study, there will also be beacons in the family’s home which have small sensors in them around the home to identify where someone is located in the home. I am not sure how this works if the person decided to have a cheeky mars bar in the garden though.
The smartwatches measure Anger, Anxiety, Boredom, happiness and sadness with between 88-97% accuracy. Pretty amazing when you think about it.
Donna Spruijt-Metz, the director of the mHealth Collaboratory at the USC Centre for Economic and Social Research, acknowledges that there is a relationship between a person’s mood and what they eat. She said, “The Culture at Home, within the family, can affect how people eat”.
Smart watches have increased in popularity and becoming more affordable. One of the most popular is the Fitbit watches which come in different styles. You can easily track your fitness and even walking counts! I like them because it encourages you to do more exercise without exerting yourself too much at the gym.
Is wearable technology used in the home a step too far? or is it the only option for some people who might be unaware of their eating habits and can find ways of improving it? What do you think? I would love to hear your views.