Suffolk: McLaren F1 technology to help in battle against obesity

Dr Simon Rudland at Stowhealth in Stowmarket with the monitoring device being used in a project to h

Dr Simon Rudland at Stowhealth in Stowmarket with the monitoring device being used in a project to help tackle obesity which involves technology developed for the McLaren F1 racing team. - Credit: Archant

Technology developed to track the performance of Formula 1 racing cars is about to be used in a medical trial in Suffolk which aims to help tackle the problem of obesity.

The “telemetry” system used to collect and transmit data for the McLaren F1 team is now being applied to monitoring the activity levels of people with series weight problems.

The year-long “Helping Health Change” study aims to help the individuals to relate the calories in the food they eat to the energy their body burns off through physical activity, and so assist them in making healthier lifestyle choices.

It involves a collaboration between McLaren Applied Technologies, part of the same group as the McLaren F1 team, Stowhealth, a GP surgery based in Stowmarket which is a member of the EADT’s Suffolk Future50, and academics at Ipswich-based University Campus Suffolk, using funding provided by healthcare provider Simplyhealth.

Stowhealth GP Simon Rudland, who is championing the research project, said: “Obesity is a problem that affects roughly a quarter of adults in the UK, and evidence suggests that these numbers are rising.


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“Our hope is that the Helping Health Change study funded by Simplyhealth will help shape the way we empower the vast number of individuals with weight-related conditions to make informed decisions based on accurate, factual evidence.”

Prof Brendon Noble, who heads the School of Science, Technology and Health at UCS, added: “These are the first steps in a revolution in healthcare technologies and we are delighted that our experts are helping to drive this forward.”

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Geoff McGrath, managing director of McLaren Applied Technologies, said: “How we manage the health and performance of a racing car, week in week out, and what doctors are looking to achieve in the monitoring of patients is not that different.

“We develop systems that collect, transmit and manage vast amounts of data per race to better understand how the car is performing and diagnose any changes that need to be made.

“We are applying the same approach to this study, but in this instance to help provide an accurate and well-informed picture of an individual’s energy usage. The key thing here is making the collected data useful and interpretable for GPs, so that they can provide tailored advice to their patients.”

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