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Calorie Counting Machine May Make Dieting Easier In The Future

A model of General Electric's automatic calorie counter, fitted over a plate of food.
A model of General Electric's automatic calorie counter, fitted over a plate of food.

Part of losing weight boils down to making tweaks to the simple equation of calories in versus calories out.

Americans spend over $60 billion a year on diet and weight loss products, according to market research, but the weight often comes right back. That may be because it's such a hassle to count calories — tracking everything you order or cook at home.

But recently, General Electric cell biologist Matt Webster told Morning Edition hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne about a new calorie counting device that could make the job easier.

General Electric scientist Matt Webster demonstrates how the calorie counter he is developing would work.
/ Courtesy of GE
General Electric scientist Matt Webster demonstrates how the calorie counter he is developing would work.

The device uses microwaves and scales to measure food. You simply place it over your plate and it shows you how much energy is in what you're about to eat.

"We have the weight of the food and the proportion that's water and the proportion that's fat, and from that information, we can estimate calories," Webster says.

But there's a long way to go before you will be able slap the gizmo on your dinner dish. The product is still in testing phase — and hasn't even measured "real" food yet.

"Right now, we're limited to a blended sample in a box," Webster says.

Yum.

"Now, if only there was an app that would exercise for you," says Inskeep.

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