A device that has been created to “tackle obesity” has drawn extreme backlash as it functions by locking a user’s jaw shut. The contraption, which has been described as a “torture device” by many of its critics, uses magnets to prevent the user’s jaw from opening any wider than 2mm, thereby preventing them from eating. And yes, this is actually serious.
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.
— Natascha Strobl (@Natascha_Strobl) June 28, 2021
- It’s called the DentalSlim Diet Control. Developed my scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand and in Leeds, England, it’s already been trialed on seven women in Dunedin, New Zealand who are considered obese.
- It’s being hailed by its creators as a real tool to fight the “global obesity epidemic.” According to trial results published in the British Dental Journal, the seven participants had the device attached to the upper and lower back teeth for one week, during which time they had a “commercially available liquid diet” but were unable to eat solid foods. The women lost an average of 5.1% of their body weight by the end of the week.
- The idea is that obese people can’t control their eating. Despite the fact that obesity has many causes, most of which have nothing to do with willpower, Professor Paul Brunton, one of the device’s creators, think this is a great thing. “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,” he said. “It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures.”
- As you can imagine, the device is incredibly intrusive. Brunton insists there are “no adverse consequences” to wearing the device, but the women in the trial beg to differ. They reported feeling really uncomfortable and struggling to partake in normal conversation. They also reported that “life in general was less satisfying” while wearing it.
- Needless to say, I doubt this will be catching on around the world. As one person on social media remarked: “You don’t need this torture device to go on a liquid diet. I did slimfast in the 90s and lost a tonne of weight quickly. I also started vomiting, taking laxatives and exercising obsessively. I put all the weight back on when I gave that up, but the damage it did is still with me.”