Can the answer to the obesity crisis be found in the cutlery drawer? The first intimation that it might came, of all places, from Sir Alan Sugar, who titled a chapter "The Tiny Fork Diet" in his 2011 book The Way I see It. It gathered pace thanks to a French book, published last year, called Dîne Avec Une Fourchette: the idea of both being that if you only eat food with a fork, and prepared with a fork, you forgo the fattening, slippery delights of yoghurt, ice cream, butter et al (see forkitdiet.com for a wider array of things that aren't allowed to tickle your tines).
This week at the CES electronics and technology fair in Las Vegas, the concept was given a tech-y makeover, with the unveiling of the Hapifork, a "smart" cutlery item that tracks how often you put fork to face and vibrates if you're eating too quickly (which can, the makers say, cause weight gain and digestive problems). It also plugs in to your smartphone to monitor your progress. The fork is set to go on sale in April in the US, with a RRP of $99. Despite the fact that it sounds like a forking bizarre way to lose weight, it's the latest in an out-there line of "smart" products, from blood-pressure monitors that keep an online log of your claret levels to Withings' Wi-Fi bathroom scales that not only create a chart of their readings, but that can tweet the results every time you step on. Gulp.
Will the Hapifork save us from ourselves? Don't, er, scoff until you've tried it.