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Cell phone cameras help Japanese lose weight

Some Japanese cell phone users are photographing their meals and sending the image to nutritionists for analysis and recommendations. Public health insurance offices in Osaka prefecture in western Japan have launched the service on a trial basis. About 100 cardiac patients signed up in the first year, followed by diabetes and obesity patients in the second. Nutritionists can work with photos from one day's meals to several weeks' worth; results come back in three days. Participants can also log onto a Web site to get further dietary information and upload photos from digital cameras.

"Japanese have been getting fatter, especially men in their 20s and 30s, and there is concern over what they learned about nutrition when they were younger. We're hoping that this program can help us to get a handle on the problem," said Osaka official Satomi Onishi. Osaka is using a system developed by Asahi Kasei Corporation, a Tokyo-based chemical and medical equipment manufacturer. The system is operating at about 150 health care providers and local governments around the country, according to company official Naoki Yoshimura.

Japan is slowly losing its reputation for low-calorie fish-and-rice diets and slim waistlines. As Japanese have turned to bigger portions and more meat and fried foods, obesity and related illnesses such as high blood pressure have become a rising concern. The Health Ministry estimated last year that more than half of Japanese men and about one in five women between 40 and 70 years of age (nearly 20 million people) were at risk of metabolic syndrome, a term for a cluster of conditions associated with obesity, high cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

News source: CNN

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