Netherlands article from the Times on the vibrating fork that should help with weight loss.


Losing weight is still very often relying on willpower and it shows in the long run that it doesn’t works. Therefore gadgets and apps are developed to warn the user immediately when he falls back into his bad habits, like a vibrating fork. Does it works?

By: Ronald Veldhuizen April 9, 2016, 02:00

It is dead silent. I’m in a Nijmegen lab where nothing is white: the interior looks more like a mix between a pub and a sports canteen. A little further a fellow participant taps his foot of on the ground; He is impatient, like me. Obvious: we haven’t eaten for hours. Then the door swings open and a research assistant brings a plate at each table: a large bowl of pasta bolognese.

I scoop a portion and take a first bite. Yummy. Enthusiastically I take a second bite. I blench suddenly: the fork vibrates violently. Extremely unpleasant. The fork from the french company Slow Control officially christened the 10SFork. It records fork servings and alerts you when you eat too fast. The idea is that people who uses the fork eat slower and especially eat less; a gadget to slim them down.

Whether such a trick really works has not been well studied, say behavioral scientists Roel Hermans and Sander Hermsen. The two of them found each other via Twitter when they both expressed concerns regarding the 10SFork: the situation for health gadget is very favorable but its benefit has never been scientifically demonstrated. They decided to examine rigorously the device in a large project for which they were given 100 thousand euros grant from NWO research funding. They tested the fork itself, in the lab and at home with subjects who actually want to lose weight. Hermans,works at the Radboud University Nijmegen, the eating expert is Hermsen more of a gadget man. At the Hogeschool Utrecht he examines how technology can help in changing behavior.

Tapping your fingers directly while you eat makes a huge difference with how most diets work. “I think a lot of interventions in the dining area still quite often rely on willpower and self-control of people,” says Eating psychologist Hermans. “People need to stick to a particular diet. So: do this and you slim down. Do not do that and you slim down. That works. But when you just don’t keep your attention there, you fall back into old habits. The advantage of a technique such as a smart fork is that you get feedback when you need it the most, without doing anything for it. ”

That shift, from willpower to trying to change people’s habits directly to waste less attempts, progresses for a while in science, says behavioral psychologist Hermsen. More and more researchers give dietary advice and especially that eating at the table is healthy.

“Most people have no idea of ​​their automatic behaviors,” said Hermsen. “Only when confronted to them, they are able to adapt their behavior.” And eating speed is a typical unconscious behavior he follows. “If someone tells me that I should eat more slowly, I get to do it for a minute or so. Then I forget it again and I eat as fast as ever. ”

Experiment with grapes

Pacing the eating rate, which the Slow Control fork is meant for, is therefore logical. But also for another reason: who slowly eats his meal also feels fuller and therefore probably eats less. Kees de Graaf, eating professor at Wageningen University, observes this continuously in his research.

He e-mailed one of his favorite examples: a video of a colleague in his lab who eats one kilo of grapes in two different ways. The first time he chews on grape after grapes, the other time he puts them in a blender and drink them. The liquid grapes are swallowed within half a minute, but the chewing exercise takes almost twenty minutes: the last fruits are going in with visible reluctance. For the stomach, there is zero difference, with the grapes, “says De Graaf. “And yet slow chewing shows quite a different experience and a stronger satiety.”

That’s what Herman and Hermsen have observed in the lab with the vibrating fork. Their preliminary results indicate that subjects not only eat more slowly but they also feel fuller. And while they ate about as much as the control group who did not shake the fork, such additional satiety signals might later today inhibit appetite, says Hermans.

But when you chew for a long time, how do you count the number of bites? While I ate the pasta Bolognese with the fork, I did not notice that I chewed slowly. However, it strikes me that I do my best to obey the ten-second rule of the fork. Especially in the beginning I’m tapped a few times on the fingers, but then I manage to wait by a little longer between the bites. With an emphasis wait: I take a bite, chew here, swallow it and count the seconds until I can again.

It didn’t surprise the two researchers. “Maybe you do not chew longer, but you stand longer on the fact that you are having a meal,” says Hermans. “You’re with your attention on your food, and it is also proved that you feel fuller.” Which of the statements is true here, is not something that Herman and Hermsen are to figure: they especially want to know if the fork could help in the long term.

Wageningen researchers will indeed determine whether unconscious eating saturates or not. Eating behavior scientist Monica Mars is working on a major research project – called Splendid – they also want to adjust automatic eating habits. But before Mars and her colleagues started it, they want to precisely identify the different eating styles of slim and overweight people.

That’s an incredibly complicated job, and the remarkable thing is that it all does not take place in a laboratory. The participants have to take home that gadget they can use at every meal. A scale of a few millimeters thickness comes under the sign; weighting the meal while it is being consumed. With the use of small earplugs that register how long you chew while holding a moving sensor – what else – just physical activity.

When Mars and her colleagues recognize poor eating habits thanks to the information from these gadgets, the next phase starts: intervention. Then the participants used beeps via a smartphone app when they eat too fast, to see whether they seated more or not enough while chewing.

“We still have to see how it works in practice,” says Mars. “If you eat out and suddenly you put a scale under your plate and you add an earpiece, then watch your table might still be surprised. I can imagine that there are many times when people decide they have had enough of it. ”

Including the Slow Control fork: who does not want that thing just puts it away. Dietician Sylvia van Daalen, who supervises twelve users of the fork and thus cooperate in the investigation and Herman Hermsen has ever heard of that happening. “Anyone trying to lose weight, experiences regression episodes” she says. “Then it’s much easier to think: flicker on, today I let it deliberately lie in the dishwasher.”

Yet they expect it to be a great tool. “If such a device vibrates, people tolerate it better than when their partner is in front of them and says, “do you have to eat so fast”? So in that respect it is an asset, even if used occasionally, rather than not at all.”

Four gadgets

Eetmeet: FYI http://www.designboom.com/technology/lissa-kooijman-eetmeet-plate/
Looks like flying saucer with lights, but is in fact a scale going under the dinner plate from the industrial designer Lissa Kooijman. Only when the lights go out, you can take another bite. The patent is being attacked and the product didn’t reach the market.

Stop chips: FYI http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/discoveries/stopping-serving-size

A box of potato chips, type Pringles, each fifth chip is colored red. That inhibits panic – Did I have 10 already? – Discovered by the scientist Brian Wansink of Cornell University specialist in the eating behavior.

The Right Cup: FYI https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-right-cup-trick-your-brain-drink-more-water#/

Goblet issuing a fruity flavor to tap water. Kees de Graaf, flavoring and eating behavior searcher in Wageningen, is skeptical: fruity aromas just stir up the appetite, he fears.


Gives satiety into the stomach. Basically promising because there has already been shown that hunger can be satisfied with gastric bypass surgery. A pill would be a less radical version, says creator Ronald Evans of the Salk Institute.

Reference : Article