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I Just Preordered My HAPIfork

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Why, oh why, would I order a plastic fork, costing $89 (on-sale), 5 months before its scheduled release? Because it promises to help me control my eating speed, which, I am now convinced, is indeed critical to controlling obesity and diabetes.

The fork is essentially a Bluetooth device that communicates to your smartphone and counts how many bites you take each meal. More importantly, I believe it counts the amount of time between each bite and if you go too fast, it vibrates.

[Insert vibrator to mouth joke here. Yes, I'm blonde.]

The reason I think it will help me goes back to my gastric bypass two months ago. Before and after the surgery, patients of Dr. Robin Blackmore at the Scottsdale Healthcare Bariatric Surgery Unit must take a series of courses aimed at preparing patients for life after surgery. One of the main lessons is that patients must now eat each meal over a 20 minute period. No more, no less. As you might surmise, for patients like me, “no more” is ready to achieve, but “no less” than 20 minutes is surprisingly difficult.

And they are well aware of how hard it is, demanding that you practice ahead of time. I don’t know about my fellow patients, but I didn’t practice at all and have paid the price numerous times since my surgery for eating too fast: let’s just say it sometimes leads to a temporary obstruction and leave it at that. Because the details are unbelievably disgusting.

Besides facing the fact that your new tummy is the size of a hardboiled egg, and that time must be given to move food through between bites, the other important fact is that a hormone called Ghrelin, released by the stomach, signals satiety to the brain, and it takes (you guessed it), ~20 minutes to act on our eating behavior. So the faster you eat, the more you can eat before your brain gets the stop signal.

The HAPIfork is therefore, quite literally, a no-brainer way to signal that you are chomping too fast. You can set the desired speed and the software keeps a record (if you are into that kind of thing). Eating speed is probably the biggest problem I face on a daily basis and I hope that this simple device will help me to do better. And that I won’t chip my teeth.


Stephen L. Macknik About the Author: Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L. Macknik are laboratory directors at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Follow on Twitter @illusionchasers.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. daveadam 3:49 am 11/24/2014

    That’s interesting. I think the new high-tech HAPIfork is pretty costly as eating utensils go. But this one is actually the latest gadget launched to the country’s multibillion dollar a year diet industry. The fork, introduced at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January, measures eating habits and alerts you if eating too much or too easily. It may well be worth its price tag if it works where other devices have failed. Check out more at

    Link to this

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