Losing weight with success?

Whether fat is actually burnt on a diet can perhaps be reviewed soon with a new device

Fat burning © SXC
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The misery in diet probably knows as well as anyone: The Libra remains the first few weeks stubborn on the unloved number. Does the torment bring anything at all? Many ask themselves in this phase. A Japanese tinker team has now developed a handy device that can answer this: it shows whether fat is already being burned in the body or not - by analyzing the test subject's breath.

The small device - 6.5 by 10 by 2.5 centimeters in size - measures the content of acetone in the exhaled air. This substance is no stranger to most dieters: it plays an essential role in, for example, the Atkins Diet, in which one seeks a condition in which as much acetone (and related substances) as possible is excreted. In fact, acetone is produced when the body splits fatty acids, ie fat is burned. It is therefore a good indicator of whether the fat metabolism is in full swing or not.

Big appliances, expensive equipment

However, how much acetone is produced varies from person to person. Also, the amount excreted with the breathing air is so small that it could previously only be measured with expensive laboratory equipment. However, the same is not really suitable for household use, say the Japanese scientists - too expensive and too difficult to use. Therefore, if one were to actually seek to use the acetone breath measurement for monitoring a diet or exercise program, an alternative would have to be made.

This is exactly what the inventors with their handy breath analysis apparatus may have developed. It has an air inlet and inside it has three sensors: a pressure sensor and two semiconductor gas sensors, which react differently to different gases and volatile substances. One is relatively specific for acetone while the other measures water, ethanol and moisture, among others. The comparison between the two sensors makes it possible to determine the acetone content fairly accurately and to calculate the disturbing effect of the other gases, explains the team. The values ​​are then - wirelessly via Bluetooth or cable - sent to a standard smartphone that can display the results within a few seconds. Overall, the measurement would take no more than 10 seconds, announce the researchers proud.

First place of application: laboratory

They first tested the functionality of their prototype in the laboratory, using simulated respiratory air and well-known acetone concentrations. Subsequently, they recruited 17 volunteers for a first field test. All had a body mass index that was above the average of 22 in Japan (overweight, depending on age and gender, starting at a value of 26). The subjects formed three groups: the first should continue their normal life for the two-week study period, the second was to do light sports for between 30 and 60 minutes each day, and the third members also received a personalized diet plan with greatly reduced ones caloric intake. display

Everyone had to start weighing in the morning, to determine the percentage of body fat, also by scale, and to blow. The air was then once passed into the new device and once in a bag for later analysis in the laboratory. Pleasing result for the developers: The two measurements did not differ much from each other, so that the small apparatus seems to be actually suitable for measuring the acetone content in the breathing air.

No time for market introduction called

The remaining results were also promising: in groups one and two, the subjects did not practically decline, their body fat percentage remained almost the same and their breath acetone content did not change. In group three, on the other hand, the subjects lost on average almost two kilograms of fat. At the same time, the acetone values ​​increased measurably.

Conclusion of the researchers: In order to test at home whether the body actually burns fat at a diet, the system seems to be well suited. It can also be used during the sport to test whether you train in the right load area, the team adds, even if it has not yet tested this area of ​​use. A small downer for all those interested: when the little helper comes into the shoes and what he should cost, the u ert the team so far not. However, the company where the scientists work has specialized in the market introduction of innovative mobile solutions.

(NTT DOCOMO, 26.07.2013 - ILB)