System Model and Device Providing Biofeedback for Avoidance and Treatment of Obesity and Diabetes

Technology #16315

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A cross-sectional View of an RQ device that includes provision for measuring flow rate and hence energy expenditure.A diagram illustrating a metabolic state model.
Chris Ferraiolo
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
Gary Shaw
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
Lawrence Candell
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
George Zogbi
Lincoln Laboratory, MIT
Managed By
Ben Rockney
MIT Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Systems, Apparatus, and Methods Related to Modeling, Monitoring, and/or Managing Metabolism

US Patent Pending US 2017-0055875

Systems, Apparatus, and Methods Related to Modeling, Monitoring, and/or Managing Metabolism

PCT Patent Application WO 2017-019783


This invention may be used for prevention, early detection, as well as the management of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and weight control. In addition, the invention may also be employed in endurance training for athletes.

Problem Addressed

Obesity rates have steadily escalated internationally. Currently, over one-third of American adults are obese with increased risk of associated comorbidities, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, asthma, gallbladder disease, chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, and, most prevalently, type 2 diabetes. A majority of diet plans focus directly on caloric energy balance using a “calorie-in/calorie-out” model, encouraging restricted consumption and/or increased exercise such that calorie intake is at a lower level than what the body requires to meet daily energy needs.  However, this method is prone to error as adherents must accurately count both calories consumed and burned.  More significantly, it utterly fails to address the impact of dietary macronutrients, exercise intensity, and genetic differences on an individual’s homeostatic control system. In comparison, this invention provides on-demand feedback of a subject’s real-time metabolic state, enabling the individual to quantitatively assess the impact of macronutrient intake and activity levels on fat burning and progress toward a healthy body weight. 


This invention includes a metabolic state model that emphasizes the mechanisms involved in controlling blood glucose levels and, consequently, the impact of exercise and dietary macronutrients on fat stores.  Metabolic state control mechanisms include burning of glucose for energy, storing glucose as glycogen, blocking the use of dietary fat as an energy source, and converting glucose into fat (de novo lipogenesis). The rates of these mechanisms within the model may be adjusted to account for age, gender, and genetic factors. The state of three of these four metabolic control mechanisms can be inferred using a portable device that measures respiratory quotient (RQ), the ratio of carbon dioxide produced to oxygen consumed. The RQ provides immediate feedback to a subject as to whether or not diet and exercise choices, which may be modulated by genetic factors unique to each individual, are putting the subject in a homeostatic zone where body weight and glucose are both successfully controlled. The RQ is determined non-invasively and may augment or even replace invasive methods such as capillary blood glucose measurements as a means of detecting high blood glucose levels. Widespread, low-cost, RQ monitoring can also provide population trends and individual diagnostics by monitoring deviations from a subject’s normal metabolism. 


  • The RQ is non-invasive and may augment or  replace capillary blood glucose measurements
  • The technology provides instant knowledge of fat burning and conversion of calories into fat for weight management
  • New paradigm for dieting, replacing traditional calorie restriction with macronutrient and exercise tailoring personalized to each individual’s unique metabolism and lifestyle preferences