The device developed by researchers from New Zealand and the UK has come under fire for its ‘barbaric’ mechanism.
A new weight loss device developed by researchers from New Zealand and the UK has been received with a barrage of criticism worldwide for its negative physical and psychological impact.
The contraption, called DentalSlim Diet Control, uses magnets to lock the mouth almost shut and is fitted to the upper and lower back teeth.
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.
It allows the wearer to open their mouths only about 2mm, restricting them to a liquid only diet. The apparatus allows free speech and doesn’t restrict breathing.
The device has an emergency key to unlock it in the case of an emergency, such as if users have a panic attack or choke.
The device, which is the first of its kind, was developed by University of Otago and United Kingdom researchers who created DentalSlim Diet Control in order to “fight the global obesity epidemic.”
During the device trial, participants lost an average of almost six and a half kilograms in two weeks.
However, the device came under heavy criticism for its mechanisms, as well as its principles.
The study revealed that most patients experienced occasional discomfort that became quite severe after 24 hrs, with the friction of the intra-oral device against the cheeks being the main reason for pain.
There was also evidence that about 25 to 45% of patients still experienced pain after seven days of appliance.
Many went so far as calling the contraption a ‘torture device’. Founder and principal of the UK’s National Centre for Eating Disorders Deanne Jade said the device is like ‘a return to the Dark Ages.’
Associate director of communications for the American National Eating Disorders Association Chelsea Kronengold called the apparatus “barbaric.”
Even if the device is a way to lose weight, health professionals argue that it cannot be the best way to achieve this.
“The ‘solution’ oversimplifies the very complex issue of obesity, reducing it to willpower and compliance when in reality, obesity and weight loss are extremely multifaceted,” Head of Content at World Innovation Summit for Health Maha El Akoum told Doha News.
However, the University of Otago in a tweet issued a clarification.
“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 institute said.
Despite this, researchers had initially revealed that the device aimed to ‘kickstart’ health habits, contrasting with their later clarification on Twitter.
“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,” said Otago University Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Brunton, the lead researcher in the study.
But besides the physical impact of the device, DentalSlim Diet Control has also been called a ‘catalyst’ for the development of eating disorders, calling it ‘fatphobic.’