Bites: They're watching what you eat

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The Independent Online

The Restaurant of the Future, where diners have their every mouthful monitored and sip surveyed, has opened in the Netherlands.

The restaurant-cum-research centre, on the campus of Wageningen University, is wired for Big Brother-style surveillance via a vast network of hidden cameras and monitors.

Customers are secretly weighed at the cafeteria's cash register and, as they eat, everything from heartbeat to chew rate is analysed by a 20-strong team of scientists. In what is the biggest restaurant laboratory of its kind, the researchers examine the impact of environmental influences such as scent, sound, seating, lighting and plate shape and size on eating behaviour.

While the scientists claim the study's aim is to find a cure to societal ills such as overeating and food wastage, the fact that the 2m project is largely funded by the multinational food-services behemoth Sodexho might cause culinary conspiracy theorists to ask why is the Big Caterer watching us?