Piloting the objective measurement of eating behaviour at a population-scale: a nested study within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children

Kaitlin H Wade, Laura Clifford, Andrew J Simpkin, Rhona A Beynon, Laura Birch, Kate Northstone, Sarah M Matthews, George Davey Smith, Julian P H Shield, Nicholas John Timpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Background: Effective measurement and adaption of eating behaviours, such as eating speed, may improve weight loss and weight over time. We assessed whether the Mandometer, a portable weighing scale connected to a computer that generates a graph representing the rate of food removal from the plate to which it is connected, together with photo-imaging of food, might prove an effective approach to measuring eating behaviours at large scale.
Method: We deployed the Mandometer in the home environment to measure main meals over three days of 95 21-year-old participants of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. We used multilevel models to describe food weight and eating speed and, as exemplar analyses, examined the relationship of eating behaviours with body mass index (BMI), dietary composition (nutritional fat content) and genotypic variation (the FTO rs9939609 variant). Using this pilot data, we also calculated the sample size required to detect differences in food weight and eating speed between groups of an exposure variable.
Results: All participants were able to use the Mandometer effectively at home after brief training. In exemplar analyses, evidence suggested that obese participants consumed more food than those of normal weight and that A/A FTO homozygotes (i.e., an indicator of higher weight) ate at a faster rate compared to T/T homozygotes. There was also some evidence that those with a high-fat diet consumed less food than those with a low-fat diet, but no strong evidence that individuals with medium- or high-fat diets ate at a faster rate.
Conclusions: We demonstrated the potential for assessing eating behaviour in a short-term home environment setting and combining this with information in a research setting. This study may offer the opportunity to design interventions tailored for at-risk eating behaviours, offering advantages over the “one size fits all” approach of current failing obesity interventions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWellcome Open Research
Publication statusSubmitted - 7 Oct 2020

Structured keywords



  • Eating behaviour
  • Obesity
  • Mandometer

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