About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Breath Test To Analyze Fat Breakdown in The Body

Font : A-A+

  • A highly convenient method to analyze fat breakdown in the body has been developed.
  • The instrument is a breath analyzer with a gas-detecting sensor that indicates the presence of acetone.
  • Results of the tests using the breath test were accurate when compared with the standard test done in the blood.

Breath Test To Analyze Fat Breakdown in The Body

Analyzing fat breakdown during exercise by a breath test can soon be used as a replacement for blood tests.

Scientists at ETH Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich have now developed the method which is highly convenient and helps real-time monitoring of lipolysis.


"When burning fat, the body produces by-products that find their way into the blood," explains Andreas Guntner, a postdoc in the group of ETH Professor Sotiris Pratsinis. In the pulmonary alveoli, these molecules - especially the volatile ones - enter the air exhaled by the person.

Gas- Detecting Sensor

During exercise, especially with endurance training, the body burns not only carbohydrates such as sugar, but also fat.

The most volatile of the lipid metabolites which is exhaled is acetone. Guntner and his colleagues have developed a small gas sensor that measures the presence of this substance.

The sensor is much more sensitive than previous sensors: it can detect a single acetone molecule in hundred million molecules. It also measures acetone exclusively, so the more than 800 other known volatile components in exhalations do not affect the measurement.

The sensor uses a chip coated with a porous film of special semiconducting nanoparticles made of tungsten trioxide implanted with single atoms of silicon.

Tungsten trioxide nanoparticles interact with acetone if the atoms of the nanoparticles are arranged in a certain crystalline structure. The interaction reduces the electrical resistance of the chip coated with the nanoparticles, and this phenomenon can then be measured. The size of the chip is 1-cent euro coin, but will be refined to smaller chips.

"This would allow athletes and people who want to lose weight to check for themselves when their bodies begin to burn fat so that they can optimise their training regimen," says Guntner.

Breath Analysis in Par With Standard Blood Test

The research team tested the functioning of the sensor in volunteers during exercise. The test subjects were asked to complete a one-and-a-half-hour session on a bicycle ergometer with two short breaks. The test subjects were asked to blow into a tube that was connected to the acetone sensor at regular intervals.

"We were able to show how the acetone concentration in the exhalations varies greatly from person to person," says Guntner. Scientific opinion used to hold that athletes only begin burning fat after a certain period of physical exertion and on reaching a certain heart rate, but this view is now outdated.

Lipolysis in some test subjects only started towards the end of the one-and-a-half-hour training session. In the other volunteers, the measurements showed that their bodies began burning fat much sooner.

Control measurements showed that the new measurement method correlated well with the concentration of the biomarker beta-hydroxybutyrate in the blood of the test subjects. This blood analysis is one of today's standard methods for monitoring lipolysis.

"Our technology has the major benefit of being inexpensive, manageable and yet highly sensitive - plus it can take measurements in real time," says Guntner. "This makes it suitable for everyday use, while working out at a fitness centre or for people on a diet."

The scientists are also working on developing gas sensors for other medically relevant molecules in exhalations, including ammonia to test kidney function, isoprene to test cholesterol metabolism and various aldehydes for the early detection of lung cancer.

  1. Güntner AT, Sievi NA, Theodore SJ, Gulich T, Kohler M, Pratsinis SE. Noninvasive body fat burn monitoring from exhaled acetone with Si-doped WO3 sensing nanoparticles. Analytical Chemistry;(2017) doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b02843.

Source: Medindia

Citations   close


News A-Z
What's New on Medindia
World Disability Day 2022 - The Role of Innovative Transformation
Diet and Oral Health: The Sugary Connection May Become Sour
World AIDS Day 2022 - Equalize!
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Cholesterol Undescended Testicles Diet Lifestyle and Heart Disease Cholesterol - The Enigma Chemical Liposuction Varicocele Healthy Living Quiz on Weight Loss Diet and Nutrition Tips for Athletes Nutrition IQ 

Most Popular on Medindia

Blood Donation - Recipients Sanatogen Selfie Addiction Calculator Drug Interaction Checker Iron Intake Calculator Diaphragmatic Hernia Find a Doctor Drug Side Effects Calculator Hearing Loss Calculator Color Blindness Calculator
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close

Breath Test To Analyze Fat Breakdown in The Body Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests