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Preventing obesity

 

Background (completed research project)

The objective of this project is to develop an instrument for finding evidence of fat metabolism products in the breath of patients. In particular, the detector, which is based on laser spectroscopy, will be able to quantify the level of acetone. This is produced when the human body metabolises fatty acids and uses up more energy than it is taking in. The tool allows obese patients to measure their daily energy balance, thus improving their treatment and increasing their level of motivation.

Aim

Obesity is linked with insulin resistance and increases the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Medical treatment is based on a combination of diet restrictions, the consumption of higher quality food and physical exercise. The combination of these measures produces a negative energy balance, causing body fat reserves to be used up and the patient loses weight. However, such treatments often fail, in particular because the patient finds it difficult to assess whether they are reducing their daily food intake sufficiently to ensure a negative energy balance.

The objective of the project is to develop an instrument that uses laser spectrospcopy to measure the level of acetone and other by-products of fat metabolism in the patient’s breath. Acetone is produced when an organism uses up more energy than it takes in, even over just a short period. The breath measurement allows the patient to assess the day-to-day efficacy of their treatment and to make appropriate adjustments to their nutrition and physical activity.

Relevance

Such breath analysis devices provide immediate feedback on the patient’s diet or training regime, in a non-invasive manner that is not unpleasant for the patient. It serves both as a tool and a source of motivation for obese people. Regular use of the instrument can improve the treatment and prevention of obesity and lower the associated health risks.

Original title

Laser spectroscopic breath analysis for the prevention of obesity through individual energy balance monitoring

Project leaders​

  • Dr. Lukas Emmenegger, Empa
  • Prof. Dr. Luc Tappy, Universität Lausanne
  • Prof. Dr. Herbert Looser, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz

 

 

Further information on this content

 Contact

Dr. Lukas Emmenegger Abteilung Luftfremdstoffe/Umwelttechnik Empa Überlandstrasse 129 8600 Dübendorf +41 58 765 46 99 lukas.emmenegger@empa.ch