This is not a joke: Microsoft Research is developing a bra that can detect stress, with the hope of preventing emotionally-triggered overeating in women. "Because what's more tragic than a woman who feeds her feelings and sabotages her perfect physique?," Grub Street rightly appeals.
Sensors in the prototype bra measure a woman's heart rate, respiration, skin conductance and movement, and send the data to a smartphone app. These physical symptoms are supposed to indicate mood, which a woman can track to see how her emotional state corresponds with overeating.
The bra is a result of a study called "Food and Mood: Just-in-Time Support for Emotional Eating," authored by researchers from Microsoft Research, the University of Rochester and the University of Southampton. The study set out to develop an intervention before someone reaches for food as a means of emotional support.
As Discovery News reports, up to 50 percent of Americans complain about overeating in response to stress, and Mary Czerwinski, a researcher from Microsoft and author of the study, believes "it's mostly women who are emotional overeaters."
The paper defines "emotional eating" as any time you eat that is not physiologically required. Some of the instinctive reasons we may reach for food -- like the "food scarcity mentality" that sets in at a buffet, which prompts us to take more than we need at the time -- can be superfluous in our modern lives where food is abundant. Stress can also prompt an instinctive "ﬁght or ﬂight response" which could cause us to reach for a dense, high-energy food -- like a doughnut. The researchers suggest these instinctive patterns can be relearned with the help of technology, like their bra and matching app.
Barring the fact that a "just-in-time support system" sounds like an advertisement for Depends, would you wear a bra that is supposed to prevent you from stress-eating?