Our paper on the effect of feedback from a ‘smart’ fork on eating rate and body weight has been published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. IJBNPA is an open access journal, so the paper is available free of charge.
Please cite this paper as:
Hermsen, S., Mars, M., Higgs, S., Frost, J., & Hermans, R.C.J. (2019). Effects of eating with an augmented fork with vibrotactile feedback on eating rate and body weight: a randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16, 90. doi:10.1186/s12966-019-0857-7.
The dataset for this research is available online: https://easy.dans.knaw.nl/ui/datasets/id/easy-dataset:129124. As well as all instruction materials used in the study (translated into English): https://osf.io/753nf/.
Eating rate is a basic determinant of appetite regulation: people who eat more slowly feel sated earlier and eat less. A high eating rate contributes to overeating and potentially to weight gain. Previous studies showed that an augmented fork that delivers real-time feedback on eating rate is a potentially effective intervention to decrease eating rate in naturalistic settings. This study assessed the impact of using the augmented fork during a 15-week period on eating rate and body weight.
In a parallel randomized controlled trial, 141 participants with overweight (age: 49.2 ± 12.3 y; BMI: 31.5 ± 4.48 kg/m2) were randomized to intervention groups (VFC, n = 51 or VFC+, n = 44) or control group (NFC, n = 46). First, we measured bite rate and success ratio on five consecutive days with the augmented fork without feedback (T1). The intervention groups (VFC, VFC+) then used the same fork, but now received vibrotactile feedback when they ate more than one bite per 10 s. Participants in VFC+ had additional access to a web portal with visual feedback. In the control group (NFC), participants ate with the fork without either feedback. The intervention period lasted four weeks, followed by a week of measurements only (T2) and another measurement week after eight weeks (T3). Body weight was assessed at T1, T2, and T3.
Participants in VFC and VFC+ had a lower bite rate (p < .01) and higher success ratio (p < .0001) than those in NFC at T2. This effect persisted at T3. In both intervention groups participants lost more weight than those in the control group at T2 (p < .02), with no rebound at T3.
The findings of this study indicate that an augmented fork with vibrotactile feedback is a viable tool to reduce eating rate in naturalistic settings. Further investigation may confirm that the augmented fork could support long-term weight loss strategies.
The research reported in this manuscript was registered on 4 November 2015 in the Netherlands Trial Register with number NL5432 (https://www.trialregister.nl/trial/5432).