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Could Bite Counting Device Help You Lose Weight?

bite counting

You may be familiar with the apps that count your steps, motivating you to walk at least 10,000 steps per day or apps that help count the vegetables you eat. Now there is a wearable bite counting device that may motivate you to take fewer bites and assist with weight loss.


About bite counting
This isn’t the first time researchers have looked at the impact of bite counting on weight loss. A previous pilot study conducted by Brigham Young University experts involved participants counting the number of times they took a bite or gulped liquids (but not water) and then committing to reduce the number of bites by 20 to 30 percent over a period of four weeks.

This mindful eating approach resulted in the participants losing an average of 4 pounds over a one month period. Now two new studies from researchers at Clemson University took the idea a few steps further.

During the first study, 94 young adult study participants were presented with either a small plate or large plate of food. Half of the participants wore a bite count device and the other half did not.

During the second study, all 99 participants wore the bite count device, were presented with either a small or large plate of food, and were given either a low bite count goal (12 bites) or a higher goal (22 bites). Here’s what the researchers found regarding both studies.

In the first study:

  • Individuals who wore the bite count device consumed significantly less than their peers without the device, regardless of plate size, although those with the large plates did eat more than those with the small plates. (Previous research has shown that larger plate size is associated with overeating.)
  • The researchers noted, however, that use of a bite count device “does not eliminate the effect of environment cues such as plate size.” That is, although people may eat less then they get feedback from a bite count device, that feedback may not be sufficient to overcome the influence of eating off of large plates.

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In the second study:

  • Participants in both groups achieved their goals
  • Individuals in the low bite goal group took bigger bites, so they ended up consuming just as much food as the individuals in the higher bite goal group
  • In other words, participants in the low bite count group overcompensated by taking bigger bites, which could have been “a reaction to a perceived limitation,” according to one of the study’s authors, Phillip W. Jasper, PhD candidate in Human Factor Psychology at Clemson.

Is using a bite count device or just the concept of counting bites a viable way to help people achieve weight loss? Mr. Jasper commented that the goal is to make people “mindful of their eating, and bite count feedback is a way to keep people mindful of their eating behaviors.”

Perhaps more important than counting each bite is the practice of being mindful of every bite you take. Eating mindfully--thoroughly chewing and experiencing every bite, putting down your fork or spoon between bites, and concentrating on the textures, taste, smell, and feel of each bite--can reduce your food intake, help you feel satisfied, and improve your digestion as well.

Also read: Are most weight loss apps a waste of time?

Jasper PW et al. Effects of bite count feedback from a wearable device and goal-setting on consumption in young adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2016 Jun 23 published online

Image courtesy of Pixabay



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