While the device has been hailed as non-invasive like other weight-loss programs, some have also called it “dehumanizing.”
Scientists from New Zealand have created “the world’s first weight-loss device to help fight the global obesity epidemic” that uses magnets that prevent you from opening your jaw wide enough to eat solid food.
Dubbed by its developers from the New Zealand’s University of Otago as the DentalSlim Diet Control, the innovation involves fitting magnets and locking bolts to the patient’s upper and lower molars. This allows the jaws to open by only 2 millimeters at maximum, forcing users to a liquid diet without limiting breathing or talking.
“It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures,” Paul Brunton, lead researcher at the University of Otago’s school of health sciences remarked about the tool’s benefits. “The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device.”
Brunton also said that the tool helped to establish new habits that could kickstart the process, overcoming the main barrier of weight loss programs which is compliance.
To prevent untoward incidents such as the wearer needing to vomit or experiencing a panic attack, the DentalSlim Diet Control also has an emergency release that loosens the clamped magnets.
So it seems to be safe enough for use, but does it serve its purpose of curbing food consumption?
The tool was first tested among a study group that included seven obese women from Dunedin in New Zealand for two weeks. Upon fitting the device, the women were given a low-calorie liquid diet. By the end of the two-week trial, the group of women had lost a mean amount of 6.36kg – about 5.1% of their body weight – as reported by a scientific article published in the British Dental Journal.
The article also reported the group citing some initial discomfort at the start of the trial but generally found the device “tolerable” once they got the hang of it.
While no one in the trial group met the need to use the emergency release, one of the women did admit to cheating her liquid diet by melting chocolate down to a drinkable slurp.
Upon meeting publicity, the device quickly met derision from social media users who called the tool “repulsive and dehumanizing,” even likening it to a medieval torture device. Some have also questioned the ethics of the trial, while others have expressed their concern over the tool “entrenching unhealthy eating habits.”
In response to criticisms, the University of Otago clarified that the device is not meant to meet its intended results overnight.
“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.”
Would you wear a pair of these to stop yourself from overeating?