Laser Developed to Detect a Person’s Vegetable Intake — #HITsm Chat Discovery

This is the continuation of the #HITsm Tweet Chat Highlights series.

Veggie-detecting laser helps doctors track your diet, cut through little, white lies via WaPo #Health #HITsm

— Elin Silveous (@ElinSilveous) August 24, 2012

This article brings up a subject that most everyone can probably relate to — answering questions from doctors and dentists…with answers that may qualify as “white lies.” Such as, flossing, exercising on a regular basis, and drinking the right amount of water. It’s not like anyone can know if you weren’t totally honest in your response, right? (well, I’m sure they medical professional would have an idea…but innocent until proven guilty, yes?)

Think again. A laser created by a University of Utah physicist and Yale University epidemiologist can detect whether or not a patient is getting as many vegetables as they claim. If this becomes mainstream, many of us (myself included) might be getting a lecture from their doctor. How many people even know what constitutes a serving anyways (It’s more than some people realize. And no, potato chips do not count.)

The laser detects the amount of carotenoids present in one’s body. The more veggies a person eat, the higher the level will be. The test is non-invasive — a fiber obtic probe is simply place on the patient’s palm or inner forearm. A blue laser beam shines onto the patient’s skin, and after about 30 seconds, a measurement of carotenoids is shown. If a person has a high amount of carotenoids present, their skin will appear very green.

By using this new technology, the article above discusses other consequences, beyond getting lectured by the doctor. Peter Smith from Fast Co Exist suggests:

How does diet tie in with the risk of developing cancer? Do people receiving federally financed supplemental nutrition eat more vegetables wen they live near farmers’ market that double the value of food stamps?

While it could do the above, the author of the article said she was nervous about the veggie-laser having the potential over being “overly-invasive”:

What if health care companies begin meausuring carotenoid levels as a screener for insurance premiums? Or government agencies use the test results to grant or deny social assistance through food stamp nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC?

Now, if the government gets involved, I might have a problem with this technology. But if it helps medical research along, allows doctor’s to get a better idea about their patient’s diet, and in turn, help them live a healthier life style, I’m all for it. Either way, it’s pretty cool.

About the author

Katie Clark

Katie Clark

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.