New Weight Loss Device Sparks Internet Backlash

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A new weight loss invention received backlash from people around the world this week over its method and implications.

The new device is essentially a tool that incorporates the use of magnets to prohibit a person’s jaw from opening wide enough for someone to eat solid foods. 

“Otago and UK researchers have developed a world-first weight-loss device to help fight the global obesity epidemic: an intra-oral device that restricts a person to a liquid diet,” the University of Otago tweeted Sunday.

The weight loss tool uses magnetic devices that contain locking bolts which are fitted to the upper and lower back teeth, Fox News explains. 

Seemingly in response to online criticism, the university also tweeted, “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.”

The university added, “After two or three weeks they can have the magnets disengaged and device removed. They could then have a period with a less restricted diet and then go back into treatment. This would allow for a phased approach to weight loss supported by advice from a dietician.”

The device has been ridiculed online, with people saying that it is similar to a torture device from medieval times. 

One user wrote on Twitter, “And this, kids, is why ethics needs to be taught in science. Good God, I thought medicine was past these kinds of torture devices.”

One person also wrote, “a holistic solution to obesity that focuses on its socio-economic roots and promotes access (time, cost, etc) to healthy, sustainable diets? no, let’s bolt fatties’ mouths shut and put them on a forced juice cleanse!”

Another added, “New Zealand hates fat people. There are people who are living there for decades but are being denied citizenship because they are fat and would be a ‘burden on the system.’ Not based on their health, just their weight.

An article in the British Dental Journal was published last week and described the clinical study that was conducted in order to look into “the acceptability and tolerability of an intraoral device, designed to facilitate weight loss.”

The study included seven “healthy obese participants” who had the device cemented to their first molars. The results of the study led to the participants reaching “a mean weight loss of 6.36 (SD = 3.79) kilograms, which represents approximately 5.1% of their body weight.” 

“The participants had trouble pronouncing some words and felt tense and embarrassed ‘only occasionally’. The participants ‘hardly ever’ reported a change in taste sensation or felt uncomfortable drinking,” the study said. 

Their two-week diet consisted of liquids, which participants said was monotonous, but the study said that they “did not complain of hunger, fatigue, light-headedness or palpitations, which are commonly associated with low-calorie regimens. However, the participants indicated that the food was too sugary and suggested that adding savoury foods to the diet regimen, such as savoury drinks or soups, would be helpful.”

The participants did indicate, however, that “they occasionally had discomfort and felt that life in general was less satisfying.” All of the participants in the trial were women. One of the people in the clinical study admitted to melting chocolate in order to eat it and also drank “fizzy drinks.”

The conclusion of the study stated that the “participants tolerated the device for a two-week period with satisfactory weight loss and were further motivated to continue their weight loss journey.” The findings also noted that the device can be placed into a person’s mouth by a dentist in about 20 minutes after basic training and is not difficult to fit or remove.

As reported by The Guardian, “Prof Paul Brunton from the University of Otago said the main barrier that stopped weight loss was ‘compliance.’ He said that the tool helped to establish new habits that could kickstart the process.”

Brunton noted, “It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures.”

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