I want to ask about a diet instrument I saw at a dietitian.

It is used to let the dietitian know what to let you eat and what not. He gives you a little cylindrical tube containing a source of liquid and written on it the name of a certain food. You are supposed to hold this tube in the palm of your hand and hold your hand horizontally. If your hands stood still, then this food is allowed, else it doesn't go with your body.

When I asked him, he said that this is a treatment using magnetic field.

What is the name of this instrument (tool), and is it scientific? If it is, how does it work? Has anyone seen such thing?

  • 2
    Can you ask this 'dietitian' the name of this instrument, and somewhere you could read more about it? Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 17:44
  • 2
    I guess I don't get to eat today because of my shaky hands. :/
    – Colin D
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 18:32
  • 6
    Are you sure that the doctor is an accredited dietician rather than a (not necessarily licensed) “nutritionist”? The former are trained doctors. The latter aren’t always (this distinction exists at least in some countries / states). Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 23:28
  • @KonradRudolph I always liked the comparison of "dietician is to dentist as nutritionist is to tooth-i-ologist". And that anyone can call themselves a nutritionist as it's not a protected term.
    – Murphy
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 10:18

1 Answer 1


There are two questions here: What is it? Does it work?

What Is It?

Your dietitian is using Applied Kinesiology.

Example of the claim:

Applied kinesiology may be used to detect allergies and sensitivities to a variety of substances including foods, dustmites, pollens, vaccinations and many medications. When exposed to an allergen, the theory is that the muscle will weaken to indicate an allergy. To test for this weakness, the client will hold their arm out horizontally whilst holding the suspected allergen. The kinesiologist will then test the arm for weakness or strength by trying to push it down, usually from the wrist.

Don't get it confused with kinesiology:

Applied kinesiology should be distinguished from kinesiology (biomechanics), which is the scientific study of movement." Unfortunately, some professionals and educators refer to science-based kinesiology as "applied kinesiology," which increases the risk that people searching for information will confuse the two.

Does it Work?


  • A literature review found:

    When manual muscle testing as used in Applied Kinesiology is disentangled from standard orthopedic/neurological muscle testing, the few studies evaluating specific AK procedures either refute or cannot support the validity of AK procedures as diagnostic tests. In particular, the use of MMT for the diagnosis of organic disease or putative pre/subclinical conditions is insupportable.

  • Quackwatch documents a number of experiments (with references):

  • Three practitioners testing eleven subjects made significantly different assessments; their diagnoses of nutritional deficiencies did not correspond to the nutrient levels obtain by blood serum analysis; and that the responses to nutrient substances did not significantly differ from responses to placebos [10].
  • Another study found no effect from administering the nutrients "expected" to strengthen a muscle diagnosed as "weak" by AK practitioners." [11]
  • Researchers who conducted an elaborate double-blind trial concluded that "muscle response appeared to be a random phenomenon." [12]
  • Another study showed that suggestion can influence the outcome of muscle-testing. During part of this experiment, college students were told that chewing M&M candies would give them instant energy that would probably make them test stronger. Five out of nine did so [13].
  • Four AK practitioners tested seven patients who were extremely sensitive to wasp venom. Altogether, 140 muscle tests were done to see how the patients responded to preparations of venom or salt water in a bottle. If the test were valid, the venom bottles should result in "strong" reactions and the salt-water bottles should produce "weak" test reactions. However, the practitioners were unable to identify which bottles contained which [14].
  • Several chiropractors were tested at a medical office while under unblinded and blinded conditions. During the volunteers could resist downward pressure when a drop of glucose was placed on their tongue but could resist when fructose was administered. The the arm tests were repeated using substances in coded test tubes so that the volunteer, the chiropractors, and the onlookers could not tell which solution being applied to the volunteer's tongue. When the code was revealed, There was no connection between ability to resist and whether the volunteer was given the "good" or the "bad" sugar [15].

In conclusion, it's time to find a new dietitian, and to consider complaining about the current one to their licensing body.

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