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Breathalyzer Device Tells When You're Burning Fat

Paired with smartphone, prototype device helps gauge weight-loss success, developers say

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Hiyama could not say what the device might cost or how soon it could be on the market.

"I think it's an interesting device," said Larry Birnbaum, a professor and chair of exercise physiology at the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, Minn., who reviewed the findings and has researched fat burning. He pointed out some limitations, including the small study size of 17 people.

One strength of the study, he said, is that the device results were compared with those of a "gold standard" test. "They did compare their device with gas chromatography and reported a strong correlation," he noted.

"That is good," Birnbaum explained. But he added that validity would be enhanced if independent researchers repeated that comparison. The device also needs to be tested on a larger number of people with varying levels of acetone in their blood and breath, he said.

In the future, Birnbaum said, if the device research bears out, it could provide people an additional piece of information. "It might help people stick with a diet; it might help them modify their diet."

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