A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York. The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

By Nina Pajak

As America gets fatter (and fatter and fatter), our greatest minds are hard at work attempting to come up with solutions to the obesity epidemic. There’s a lack of nutrition education in many communities. Fresh, healthy food is cost-prohibitive. Kids don’t get enough exercise. Portions are universally too large. Soda sizes are preposterous and represent a dangerous freedom of choice for New Yorkers. These are all extremely complex, politically-charged, difficult problems to navigate.

So naturally, as the problem gets more complicated, our most appealing answers become the shortcuts. Why, it’s the American way! Diet pills and food additives that require users to carry around a spare pair of underpants. Exercise. Surgery. A box of magical powder that you sprinkle over your meal to trick your brain into thinking it’s full, allowing you to dance around like a maniac in a bizarrely choreographed world constantly moving to a version of “Shake Your Booty” by KC and the Sunshine Band. Short-term, store-bought diets full of empty promises. Oh, and that grotesque invention that literally sucks the food out of your stomach after you’re done eating so that you don’t absorb the calories.

Well, meet the latest elaborate device for people who prefer not to use their brains: watchdog cutlery. The HAPIfork, quite simply, vibrates if it detects that you are shoveling in your food at an alarming and dangerous rate. It’s true that eating too quickly can lead to weight gain, as it results in stuffing your craw far beyond necessary capacity before your stomach can even register the feeling of fullness. Here’s what it does, according to their website, vibratingfork.com (best URL ever):

  • Records how long your meal lasts
  • Records how much time elapses between each bite of food
  • Records how many mouthfuls of food you consume
  • Vibrates with flashing lights when you are eating too fast
  • Includes a USB port and is Bluetooth capable to easily upload recorded data

So the idea is that HAPIfork keeps track of your habits in one convenient online database so that you can go back and review them easily, ideally using the fork’s vibrating external conscience to learn how to slow it down and ultimately track improvement. It’s sort of like Weight Watchers meets an electric fence. Although far less painful. Actually, perhaps introducing a pain element into the product would make it that much more effective. I’ve always felt that there’s no motivator in the struggle with weight loss than self-flagellation and negative feedback.

The company is raising money on Kickstarter, and you can get a free fork if you back them with $99 or more. Why, that’s only slightly more than your monthly gym membership. If they threw in a ShakeWeight and one of those vibrating ab belts, this would be a slam dunk weight loss plan.

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