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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tanita working on hand-held gauge that shows who pigged out

Staff writer

Ate too much? With only one drop of urine, a new device developed by health care firm Tanita Corp. can check for overeating.

News photo
Health check: A Tanita Corp. employee demonstrates a device to check sugar levels in urine at a news conference in Tokyo on Feb. 22. KYODO PHOTO

Tanita, which makes scales and other health care goods, recently announced its QM-300 prototype can calculate sugar levels in urine and show users whether they have overeaten.

To use the device — at 17.6 cm long and 3.7 cm wide, small enough to be carried in a handbag — users only need to put a tiny drop of urine onto a sensor placed on the machine about two hours after a meal.

Tokyo-based Tanita aims to begin selling QM-300 in two years for about ¥10,000, company spokesman Shunsuke Tomimatsu said.

"There are devices to check the amount of calorie consumption, but customers have been telling us it is difficult to check overeating," he said.

The device's display has an icon of a fat person divided into five black lines, which indicate five levels of overeating. It also shows a number from zero to 1,000, with zero meaning the person has not overeaten.

Users must wait about two hours because it takes that long for the body to transform sugar in food into urine, Tomimatsu said.

Citing government statistics indicating 70 percent of men and 80 percent of women in Japan are worried about their weight, Tanita says people's personal interest in their diet is constantly rising.

"You could measure total calorie intake from the amount of calories for each food you eat, but it is cumbersome to calculate. Also, the way to absorb calories into the body is different from person to person, and thus it is difficult to precisely measure calorie intake," the company said in a press release.

"QM-300 makes it easy to judge overeating, thus making it easy to succeed in dieting," it said.

Before commercializing the device, Tanita plans to develop measures to check the levels of not just sugar but also other substances in urine so as to provide users with more accurate information.

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