Weight Loss Tuesday May 10, 2016

How Tech Can Help With Obesity

Obesity concerns in the UK are nothing new. This condition has been a challenge nationwide for adults and children alike for years. In fact, obesity figures have almost quadrupled over the past 25 years. The question now becomes; how do we solve this problem?

There are multiple well-known options that can help to tackle obesity, including prescription treatments (e.g. Xenical), a diet and exercise plan, and in extreme cases even weight loss surgery. However, one very modern method of treatment that can help with the obesity problem moving forward is technology. This can include:

  • Wearable fitness gadgets
  • Apps
  • Hi-tech sensors
  • Tailored text messages
  • Smart trolleys

Wearable fitness gadgets

This form of wearable technology work by automatically tracking your calorie intake, physical activity, sleep patterns, heart rate and mood, as well as other bonus features depending on which gadget you use. These types of gadgets can be worn as:

  • Watches
  • Wristbands
  • Earphones
  • Clip-ons (to belts or clothing)

Fitness gadgets are extremely convenient and efficient because they can be used at any time whilst on-the-go and are very simple to use. By monitoring yourself during exercise you can ensure that you are successfully keeping up with any exercise plans you are following and can prove that your exercise regime is a success. This reassurance can motivate you to stick with your commitment to stay fit and lose weight.


Across the app market there is currently an array of different apps that you can lose to help you lose weight and avoid obesity. These apps can aid your journey towards weight loss in a number of ways.

Type of app How it can help
Recipe apps – e.g. One You Easy Meals app Provide recipes for healthy meals and can help you to keep track of shopping lists and ingredients
Calorie counting apps – e.g. MyFitnessPal's Calorie Checker Allow you to easily log and keep track of the calories and nutrients you consume
Podcast apps – e.g. Strength & Flex podcasts Exercise programmes delivered via an easy to follow weekly podcast
Alcohol unit calculator apps – e.g. One You Drinks Tracker app Reduce your alcohol intake by monitoring the amount of alcohol you consume as well as the amount of calories
Exercise apps – e.g. MapMyFitness Track your workout regime as well as calories burned, miles logged and weight lost

New apps are being invented all the time to help weight loss. They each include fresh and innovative ways to achieve your weight loss goals and continue to break new ground. Health Minister Lord Lowe has even stated, "We want to encourage innovation" when referencing the government supporting small businesses in the UK. This level of support and encouragement ensures that there will always be a steady flow of new weight loss apps in the market to help you with your weight loss.

Hi-tech sensors

A range of hi-tech sensors (referenced under the brand name SPLENDID) that are to be funded by the European Union can monitor your food intake and activity to evaluate the risk of obesity. The purpose of these sensors is to encourage the younger generation to follow a healthier lifestyle with regards to their diet and exercise regime. The co-ordinator of the project Prof Anastasios Delopoulos has explained this project by saying "The idea is that we try to investigate ways to prevent obesity and eating disorders".

To be more specific, the sensors measure the speed at which you eat food and how you chew the food you consume. The reason behind this is that the speed you eat food is considered to be risk factor of obesity. The sensor is connected to a portable computer or smart phone and works by placing a plate of food on the scale provided and the rate at which the food leaves the plate is measured and recorded. An audible sound is then emitted if you are eating too fast. The data collected is then processed and run through algorithms to assess the risk of obesity. According to Prof Anastasios Delopoulos, the long-term goal for this technology is for it to be used in healthcare.

Tailored text messages

This particular method targets teenagers and children. The hope behind this is that mobile phones will be used to help teenagers and children with making healthier lifestyle choices. Dr. Susan Woolford of the Pediatric Comprehensive Weight Management Center at the University of Michigan and her dedicated team send tailored text messages that encourage teens and kids to eat healthily and spend less time in front of TVs and computer screens.

"Intervention in schools has had a limited impact. These novel technology areas are where we can individualize obesity counseling may be helpful." Dr. Nicolas Oreskovic

This was tested on 25 participants in a study where automated messages were sent out daily with very specific and personalised texts going to each participant. For example, if a participant liked dairy for breakfast it was suggested in a text that they "Try yoghurt this morning". By paying attention to the personalised content it was found that's success was greater. Long-term this technology could even be used in schools to further prevent the risk of obesity amongst children and teenagers.

Smart trolleys

Indeed, there is such a thing as smart trolleys. Whilst they can't steer themselves or collect your food whilst you sit back and relax they are able to provide information about your food, including harvest time and freshness, according to AUSVEG, an industry body. These hi-tech touchscreen products are connected to the trolleys and can be used overseas. It is currently being tested across certain stores in Australia.

According to AUSVEG spokesman Shaun Lindhe "When it comes to fresh vegetables, for example, more than half of all Australian consumers would like more information about how long their food will be fresh for, or when the vegetable they're holding was harvested". This means that without this information, shoppers may not be willing to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. By introducing this technology people may be encouraged to buy more fruit and vegetables because they have more of an understanding about what they're buying.

The role of technology

There is a widespread misconception that technology, i.e. TVs, computers, tablets, video games and smart, can have a negative influence on a healthy lifestyle by promoting laziness over exercise and healthy living, it can be used for good. New and innovative technology focused on weight loss and tackling obesity can revolutionise the way we tackle these issues in the future in an effective and convenient way. These innovative and technologically advanced methods can offer support, advice and can connect you with like-minded people to provide extra motivation to lose weight.

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