Scientists have developed a magnetic weight loss device that keeps the jaws almost shut to prevent people from opening their mouths wide enough to let in solid food.
The device, which is called the DentalSlim Diet Control is fitted to the upper and lower back teeth and works to keep through the help of locking bolts.
It was designed and developed by medical professionals from the University of Otago in New Zealand and scientists from Leeds in the UK.
The team said the device was a way to help solve the global problem of obesity.
Professor Paul Brunton from the University of Otago said of the device:
The main barrier for people for successful weight loss is compliance and this helps them establish new habits, allowing them to comply with a low-calorie diet for a period of time. It really kick-starts the process. It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures. The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device.
Does it work?
The device was fitted in the mouths of seven healthy obese women in New Zealand, thus allowing them to open their mouths by only 2mm, according to an article published in the British Dental Journal.
During the trial period, they were given a low calorie liquid diet with no solid food. The article reports that the participants lost an average of 6.36 kg—5.1% of body weight.
Despite the weight loss, the participants reported feeling discomfort, ‘tense and embarrassed’ occasionally. The report added that the participants also 'felt that life in general was less satisfying.'
One participant admitted to cheating during the period by taking in melted chocolate and fizzy drinks.
A torture device?
The device and experiment have not been well received by the public. One twitter user described it as a torture device aimed at making obese people feel even worse about themselves. Another @natascha_strobl asked:
What if somebody needs to throw up? They just choke to death? What if the person has e.g. a heart attack and needs to be intubated quickly? This seems highly unethical.
The university clarified that the device is not intended for long term use neither is it targeting healthy obese people.
To clarify, the intention of the device is not intended as a quick or long-term weight-loss tool; rather it is aimed to assist people who need to undergo surgery and who cannot have the surgery until they have lost weight. After two or three weeks they can have the magnets disengaged and the device removed.
The team said the tool could be particularly helpful for those needing to lose weight before they can undergo surgery, and for diabetes patients for whom weight loss could initiate remission.