The University of Berlin has developed a unique measuring method which permits medical personnel, within minutes, to say whether the lifestyle of a person is healthy or unhealthy. This process is now being tested with the support of the Competence Networks for optical Technologies, in a pilot study with 50 students, supported by OpticNet Deutschland e.V. and funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research.
The study aims to investigate whether young people will change their lifestyles and eating habits, if the consequences of unhealthy diets or the effects of the last party with alcohol and nicotine are made directly visible to them. At the same time, the students will have an opportunity to become closer acquainted with the current possibilities for optical technologies.
In a five year project, the working group of Prof. Jürgen Lademann of the Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Allergy, Charité Campus Mitte, developed a non-contact measurement method, in which light is sent on to and in to the skin. Part of the device's projected light scatters back to the meter. This so-called backscatter contains valuable information which clearly describes like a fingerprint the life style and the stress factors of the test person. With this method, it is possible to demonstrate through the skin values, after two or three days, whether a person has stopped smoking and adopted a healthier diet. "We expect that the behavior of the students will change when they are quickly made aware of their own documented physical reaction to certain behaviors," explains Prof. Lademann.
The concentration of so-called antioxidants in the body is a central factor. Antioxidants are vitamins and trace elements which the body should ingest through food. They fight against the free radicals which are regarded as the cause of civilization's diseases such as diabetes or cancer. Previously, it was not possible to study the interaction between antioxidants and free radicals in human skin without tissue removal. Skin tests had to be taken and be analyzed in expensive procedures. A Kassel-based company recently offered a miniaturized measurement system the size of a PC mouse. This system will now be used be used to perform tests on young people.
Over the course of one month, secondary school pupils will be questioned three times weekly about their eating and lifestyle habits. Following the detailed analysis, a month long intervention program will take place, consisting of communal lunches, food literacy and targeted reduction in cigarette and alcohol consumption. After six months the current situation at the school will be analyzed again for a period of one week to ascertain the program´s sustainability.
The pilot study will be initiated with the support of the regional management of Northern Hessen at a Elisabeth-Knipping school in Kassel.
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