Do Bite Counters Count Bites?

bite counterWith the current electronic self-montioring craze, it was only a matter of time before someone would try to come up with a device that counts the number of bites it takes you to finish a meal.

The device (Bite Counter), is worn no the wrist of the dominant hand and contains a tri-axial accelerometer that detects an upward, arcing motion from the table to the mouth.

Now a study by Jenna Desendorf and colleagues from the University of Tennessee, tested the accuracy and validity of this device in 15 adults (23–58 years old) while eating a meal consisting of foods/beverages, each consumed with different utensils: meat (knife and fork), side items (fork), soup (spoon), pizza (hands), can of soda (hands), and a smoothie (straw), while being observed them through a one-way mirror and counted the number of bites taken.

As the paper, published in Eating Behaviors reports, the overall accuracy of the device was around 80%. However, this varied substantially between foods: meat (127%), side items (82.6%), soup (60.2%), pizza (87.3%), soda (81.7%), and smoothie (57.7%).

So, while this device may well underestimate the number of bites taken during a mixed meal, the real question is what people will start monitoring next – number of chews? (I joke about this on my show) Saliva flow? Numbers of swallows per bite? Oesophageal transit time?

I can perhaps see some research applications but as a way to help improve your eating?

The company claims that limiting your number of daily bites to 100 will help you lose weight.

I am yet to be convinced.

Edmonton, AB

ResearchBlogging.orgDesendorf J, Bassett DR Jr, Raynor HA, & Coe DP (2014). Validity of the Bite Counter device in a controlled laboratory setting. Eating behaviors, 15 (3), 502-4 PMID: 25064306