London: Mindless snacking is a problem for many weight-watchers. Now, scientists have developed a new device which they say could help stop people from overeating by monitoring how many mouthfuls they eat.
Developed by researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina, the Bite Counter is worn like a watch and tracks a pattern of wrist-roll motion to identify when the wearer has taken a bite of food.
Then this data can be used to monitor how many calories people are eating long-term. People can also set a bite limit so if they snack too much an alarm will go off.
The researchers have described the innovative device as a pedometer for eating, the Daily Mail reported.
Lead scientist Dr Eric Muth said: "At the societal level, current weight-loss and maintenance programs are failing to make a significant impact.
"Studies have shown that people tend to underestimate what they eat by large margins, mostly because traditional methods rely upon self-observation and reporting.
"Our preliminary data suggest that bite count can be used as a proxy for caloric count."
According to the researchers, the advantage of the Bite Counter is that it is automated so that user bias is removed.
The device can be used anywhere, such as at restaurants or while working, where people find it difficult to manually track and remember calories.
"The device only requires that the user press a button to turn it on before eating and press the button again after the meal or snack is done," said study co-author Dr Adam Hoover.
"In between, the device automatically counts how many bites have been eaten."
He added that in laboratory studies, the device has been shown to be more than 90 per cent accurate in counting bites, regardless of the user, food, utensil or container.
Prototypes have been completed and devices are now being tested in 20 subjects for one month.