Controlling Obesity with Smart Electronics

Dr. S. S. VERMA; Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148 106

2021-01-10 11:55:54

Credit:  Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Credit: Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Weight gain or obesity (a term with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher) in populace all over the world has become an alarming situation not only in children but in people of all ages as well as of any strata. The weight gain can be assigned to its different causes like increasing affordability (in terms of good health care, health supplements and good food) and technology dependent easy life style. Moreover, we assign the weight gain to many other reasons like: DNA/heredity, medication, depression/tension, body formation, etc. except agreeing with the truth of eating excess and not consuming enough energy in our day to day life activities. Ancient medical and dietary systems of India propose many remedies to control obesity but it is difficult to follow these routines and principles of living and diet in the present era of freedom and availability. Every one of us wants to have the freedom to eat what & how much he likes and also live an easy life and then be able to control weight. In this regard, one has the possible, immediate and less time consuming support from smart electronic devices in order to lose weight and control obesity. Presently, every other advertisement on the television, internet or in newspapers promises ground-breaking electronic inventions which can free the overburdened populace from the shackles of obesity.

Obesity has already emerged as a worldwide problem and India is the third most obese country in the world and is showing increasing incidence of over-weight children and adolescents not only urban areas but also in rural India. Most of the people thought that obesity is simply caused by over eating and under-exercising, resulting from a lack of will power and self-control. However, according to experts, here are a few common causes of obesity: genetics, junk food, food addiction, side effects of medication, use of insulin, hormonal issues, food availability, sugary foods and also involving environmental, behavioral and social factors. The implications of obesity are much graver than cosmetic concern (i.e., looking fatty & ugly) as an obese person is prone to many metabolic disorders like hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, hormonal imbalances and even some cancers. Obese children experience breathing difficulties, psychosocial dysfunction, and increased risk of fractures, hypertension, and early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and psychological effects which all lead towards a health risks in adulthood also. The state of overweight and obesity are linked to increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes (high blood sugar), high blood pressure, certain cancers, and other chronic conditions. Health risks of being overweight are to be mentioned few are: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for short episodes during sleep) and asthma, osteoarthritis, gout, fatty liver disease, kidney disease, and pregnancy problems, such as high blood sugar during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery (C-section). It is therefore always said that obesity is the cause to almost all health problems.

Prevention of obesity

Obesity deserves immediate global attention and intervention towards its better understanding which will help to tackle it robustly and myths surrounding it need to be busted. Obesity was long-thought to be a disease that afflicted those who ate too much and the rich, a problem that was of concern to economically advanced countries only. But contrarily obesity is growing fast in the not-so-rich countries also, including those with chronic food shortages. Studies also show that in addition to genetics, the kind of food rather than the am­ount one eats increases a person’s chances of becoming obese with sedentary lifestyles and lack of exer­cise contributing to obesity as well. Therefore, the fundamental source of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Changes in dietary habits of present day generation in particular and lack of physical activity are largely responsible for this imbalance. This includes increase in snacks and portion size of meals with concomitant decrease in physical activity, social policies such as easy access to vending machines and fast food restaurants, advertising of unhealthy foods such as candy, increased use of technology, and socioeconomic status.

Obesity is preventable and prevention is a collective responsibility of individuals, communities, schools, physicians, food industries and the government. Management at the individual level involves limiting energy intake from total fats and sugars, increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, and engaging in regular physical activity. Food industries can play an important role in controlling obesity by reducing the fat, sugar, and salt content of processed foods, while the government can implement policies that make regular physical activity and making healthier dietary choices available which are affordable and easily accessible to everyone, particularly to the poorest of individuals. Best example to quote is a scheme recently launched by Indian Railways to issue a platform ticket free to the person performing 50 SIT-UPS at machines set up on the Railway station. Such initiatives have to come up at every level like: school, offices and homes. Further, in the present electronic driven era of life style people are looking eagerly for smart electronic devices to control obesity.

 Role of electron devices

Almost all obese people want to lose weight but hate being on a diet or doing exercises, therefore, finding effective strategies that promote healthy behavior change with diet and exercise control towards losing or controlling weight is an ongoing challenge. Though, at one hand electronics screen media exposure is one of the most-documented causes of obesity in children and children with one or more electronic devices in the bedroom-TVs, computers, video games and cellphones-are far more likely to be overweight or obese. However, on the other hand, smart electronic devices, such as mobile phones and PDAs, have emerged as potentially useful tools in the facilitation and maintenance of weight loss. Use of smart mobile electronic devices has recently gained popularity as a tool to facilitate and maintain weight loss among overweight and obese populations. The use of smart electronic devices e.g., phone based interventions, mobile computing and communication technology is rapidly expanding in healthcare and has demonstrated positive outcomes across a variety of populations. Though, trials on the use of smart electronic devices in controlling obesity have demonstrated a positive impact but the extent to which such devices are effective than usual care methods is still being debated. Encouraging outcomes include the establishment of new paradigms for evaluation and deployment within the context of health care and health care management.  Electronic health or mobile health (mhealth) is the overarching term used to describe the practice of medicine and public health, supported by mobile electronic devices.

Smart electronic devices

Once, one has firmly decided to lose weight then weight-loss smart electronic gadgets and body shapers are just what are needed. Smart electronic devices in use presently are nothing to describe things like, a talking plate, or a smart fork or a pig-shaped refrigerator lock for losing weight. Moreover, electronics also does not give magical bands which would help to lose weight without any working out. However, electronic devices like: smart scales, fitness and weight-loss trackers could help to monitor exercises in order to lose weight. There are different such devices available in the market and catching the attention of users and the primary rule is to use them properly by knowing their competitive edges.  The electronic basis and working of some of such smart electronic devices being used in obesity control are highlighted here.

Electrical muscle stimulation

Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) is a technique of muscle recovery that has recently become popular with weight-loss seekers also.  Once a niche technology used mainly by physical therapists or professional athletes, now EMS devices are also sold for personal use during exercise. Research has shown that EMS devices offer benefits when it comes to muscle recovery and physical therapy. The technique works by attaching equipment to the skin that sends an electric current to specific muscle groups. The current causes the muscles to contract, relieving discomfort and pain. Along with muscular rehabilitation some innovating new uses for the technology are also emerging and is frequently associated with weight loss as it is often paired with exercise. EMS devices can increase blood flow to muscles after exercise helps athletes recover faster, and thus train at a high intensity more consistently. In this way, EMS may help to lose weight as part of an exercise regimen.

A version of electronic muscle simulation technology which stimulates the muscles through electrodes delivering electronic impulses has been approved by Food & Drug Administration (US) Obesity is one of the best-documented outcomes of screen media exposure. Many observational studies find relationships between screen media exposure and increased risks of obesity. Randomized controlled trials of reducing screen time in community settings have reduced weight gain in children, demonstrating a cause and effect relationship. Current evidence suggests that screen media exposure leads to obesity in children and adolescents through increased eating while viewing; exposure to high-calorie, low-nutrient food and beverage marketing that influences children’s preferences, purchase requests, consumption habits; and reduced sleep duration. Some evidence also suggests promise for using interactive media to improve eating and physical activity behaviors to prevent or reduce obesity. Future interdisciplinary research is needed to examine the effects of newer mobile and other digital media exposures on obesity; to examine the effectiveness of additional interventions to mitigate the adverse effects of media exposures on obesity and possible moderators and mediators of intervention effects; to effectively use digital media interventions to prevent and reduce obesity; and to uncover the mechanisms underlying the causal relationships and interactions between obesity-related outcomes and media content, characteristics, and a weight loss device for obese adults. The system consists of a rechargeable electrical pulse generator, wire leads and electrodes implanted surgically into the abdomen. The system works by sending intermittent electrical pulses to the trunks in the abdominal vagus nerve which is involved in regulating stomach emptying and signaling to the brain that the stomach feels empty or full. The device targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach, which controls hunger and fullness feelings. The effectiveness and safety of this device were evaluated in a clinical trial and results demonstrated that after 12 months, the experimental group lost 8.5 percent more excess weight than the control group. However, the manufacturers warn that the stimulators or EMS devices are not weight loss products but should be considered as an additional method to a healthy lifestyle and in future, EMS devices can become a viable substitute for dieting and exercises.

Muscle stimulator: A reputed company based in Switzerland has been successfully manufacturing such muscle stimulators for decades. What singles out the product from other brands is its unique muscle stim technology. Although it’s main purpose is muscle stimulation but users can apply it as an additional method helping to shed extra weight. The device is rechargeable which means to save money on batteries. There are three programs for different intensity of stimulation and four pads that will be enough for about twenty EMS sessions. Once the device is activated, the blood will flow hundreds of times faster than it normally does. The EMS devices come in their different versions for the use at different parts of the body to lose weight.  The treatment takes no more than six minutes. However, some customers considering the time spent on preparation think that it is time-consuming.

Slim belts: Slimming belts are widely advertised and said to help people make their waist, thighs and other parts of the body thinner. These are simple to use and designed to destroy fat by freezing its cells claiming that this results in the loss of weight. The companies support their claims of weight loss with scientific studies and refer to the experience of the users who say the use has helped them to reduce their cellulite and firm their skin. The product comes with gel packs allowing reaching temperatures that allegedly cause fat loss while the skin remains unharmed. It is recommended to apply the packs to the most stubborn areas, such as the abdomen and thighs. The packs are said to have a dual action, working by destroying the fat and burning calories. This device promises multiple benefits, such as improved skin and cell metabolism, using both positive and negative ions. The former are intended to cleanse the skin, keeping it fresh, while the latter are meant to nourish it. The product comes with EMS gel pads that are designed to target excess fats and improve blood circulation. The treatment can be applied to any part of the body, including the waist and hips by applying enough cream or lotion beforehand. The device is easily activated and adjusted and works with a frequency of 1 MHz per second, penetrating into skin up to 0.2 inches deep, something that is believed to shed extra weight. The vibration amplitude is safe and also helps the skin to relax. Similarly, electronic devices like bracelets and rings are also designed to make users aware of their health related parameters leading to weight control.

Anti-obesity electronic implant: Anti-obesity electronic implant: To control obesity with electronics, soon there will be a possibility to be able to have an implant in the abdomen that works by blocking signals between the stomach and the brain. One such a device has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (USA) for people who are severely obese. Such a device once implanted will be recharged and adjusted wirelessly using an external controller. The device works to block the signals travelling along the vagus nerve which an important line of communication between the brain and several major organs. The electrodes wrap up the branch of the nerve connecting to the stomach. This contains both the neurons going from the stomach to the brain and those going back down to the stomach. According to company, blocking this signaling pathway reduces stomach expansion and contraction, as well as the secretion of digestive enzymes. The net result of the use of this device will be that people will feel less hungry and their calorie intake will be reduced, thus leading towards obesity control.

Weight loss with Lasers: Acupuncture has been used for weight loss for over 5,000 years and is now one of the leading methods for losing weight. By combining the ancient art of acupuncture with highly advanced 21st-century electronics of Laser works which can help to lose weight in one of the quickest and safest natural ways known. The fat-busting benefits of electronic laser acupuncture are control appetite, reduce hunger cravings, stimulate metabolism, and increase energy along with helping in managing hormone imbalances, personality eating disorders, sugar addictions and general weight loss issues.

Weight loss trackers

These are obesity controlling electronic devices which are also gaining popularity in the market. They analyze the muscle to fat tissue ratio in the body.  These devices are very helpful to those who have already lost the excessive weight and have decided keep their body look more aesthetic or those who are still in the course of losing weight. With the help of inbuilt bio-impendence technology, the body fat analyzers scan its owner’s body and output all of the statistics as percentages: how much fat and muscle there is. Today there are two types of fatness trackers in the market. The first one looks like a bicycle wheel or an aircraft helm. One has to grab both sides, hold on tightly and feel the electric impulse run through the body through palms. The device will output the final results after matching the obtained data with user’s age, height and weight, physical condition. There are different indicators showing not only weight but also body fat percentage and visceral fat. The second type of body fat analyzer is supposed to be placed on the muscle of the fat tissue of which user want to analyze.  This type of device can be better tuned which suit the beginner bodybuilders rather than other people. The device is perfect for motivating constant physical activity and is simple and easy to use.

Smart electronic scales: Just like any other smart device, this one is easy to sync with smartphone and keeps track of weight changes. It has a number of special options and services like: weight measurement accuracy and the ability to calculate the percentage of fat in body; in addition, it can calculate personal body mass index. In general, this data will be enough for designing a physical activity schedule for the owner. The body mass index, by the way, is used by coaches and dieticians when they assess their clients’ health. Another super popular smart scale model, monitors weight, body fat, water percentage as well as muscle and bone mass. This scale can also evaluate the quality of the environment by measuring the temperature outside and the air pollution. It can also transmit the data not only via Wi-Fi but also via Bluetooth and can work in a regular or in a sports mode.

Fitness bands, shoes and clothes: These devices are probably the best known and most popular health gadgets nowadays. These smart electronic devices are really convenient as a step counter, a heart rate monitor, a body temperature monitor and even a mood sensor helping to control obesity. The most basic option that is available even in the most ancient fitness devices are a step counter. The motion sensor keeps a record of personal activity continuously. It detects how much one has walked on his way to work, whether moved around much in the office, did go jogging in the morning and in the evening, how many calories were burnt. This smart device analyzes the obtained data and recommends how much more one should walk to lose weight. All to do then is to obey this interactive coach and start walking more.

Smart Bed: The centers for disease control and prevention warns that sleeping less than seven hours a day can increase the risk for obesity and diabetes, as well as heart disease. Therefore, getting more and good sleep is the favorite piece of advice towards weight loss and electronic supported smart bed promises to do a lot of things leading towards sound sleep. The mattress can detect movement and automatically adjusts to sleep position to make sleeping more comfortable. It also will gently lift the head if one is snoring. The smart bed will display a sleep score in the morning based on factors like heart rate, breathing patterns, and movements to judge the quality of sleep.