A thoughtful forkful


Alison Cullen
@AVogelUK


16 January 2013

A thoughtful forkful

How happy am I? Not only the scientific world, but also the world of geeks has validated my incessant message to chew, chew, chew. Scientists in the Netherlands discovered that aromas released during chewing boost a feeling of fullness by activating areas of the brain that signal satiety[1]. Japanese research has shown that eating quickly could almost treble the risk of being overweight[2].

And now the geeks have caught on.

Nagged by his wife to stop wolfing down his meals, Jacques Lepine came up with the notion of cutlery that would do her job for her. Enter the HAPIfork, which buzzes in your hand when you eat too quickly.

As you may know, it takes about 20 minutes for the message to get through to your body that you have now filled up on food and it can stop sending hunger signals. Decreasing the amount you’ve shovelled into your mouth in that 20 minutes will have a beneficial effect upon your weight, is the theory. The smart fork allows you roughly 10-15 seconds between bites.

Displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the world’s leading gadgets exhibition, the president of HAPIlab gives the HAPIfork the thumbs up, having used it whilst trimming himself down from tubby to svelte.

When you use the fork over several meals, it is able to track your eating rate and, as you slow down, it encourages you by buzzing after longer periods of time. It also tells tales on you to your mobile phone, sending it information on the speed at which you took each meal. Gulp.

Of course, this will only work for those of us at an advanced stage of cutlery-consciousness, rather than those still favouring the greasy finger method of conveying food to mouth. Are those late night chip-guzzlers standing at bus stops likely to fish out their fork and avail themselves of its intelligent take on speed eating? Unlikely. They’ll have to fall back on intelligent thinking or take the hit on their waistbands.

[1] Ruijschop RMAJ et al. Retronasal Aroma Release and Satiation: a Review. J Agric Food Chem 2009; 57 (21): 9888-994
[2] Murayama K et al. BMJ 2008; 337: a2002

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