Breathalyzers: The Latest Dieting Tool?

There's a new type of breathalyzer on the market, and it has nothing to do with alcohol.

Researchers at the NTT DOCOMO Research Laboratories have developed a prototype device that analyzes your breath to detect if your body is burning fat. Nutritionists praise the device both as an exercise regime accessory and as a tool for diabetics trying to lose weight and manage their daily diet. 

So how does it work? This new device detects the levels of acetone in your breath, which is an organic compound primarily produced in the blood when fat is broken down, and thus is a reliable indicator of when the body has begun breaking down fat.

To test the device's reliability, the researchers gathered 17 male and female volunteers and split them into three groups. The first group carried on their normal routine without any diet or exercise requirements. The second group was required to perform 30 to 60 minutes of light exercise per day without any dietary component. Finally, the third group followed a restricted calorie diet along with the same exercise regime as the second group.

After two weeks, the results showed that acetone concentrations found in the breath of study participants remained constant for those in the first two groups who were not able to lose significant amounts of fat, while those in the third group both lost body fat and reported higher acetone concentrations in their breath.

This new fat-burning detector is four inches long, weighs around four ounces, and requires two AA batteries. Satoshi Hiyama, the study's principal investigator, states that enabling users to monitor the state of fat burning could help reduce the national obesity crisis and thus curb other lifestyle-related illnesses, such as heart disease.

In the same way that food journaling can help you lose weight by helping you stay aware of your food intake, this breathalyzer prototype could aid in weight loss by keeping users conscious of how their body is responding to their daily diet and exercise regimes.

If successfully marketed, this device could very well be the key to successful weight management that health specialists have been searching for.