Just when you think we’re making strides towards a more accepting and mental health-minded society, something comes out that makes you simply shake your head. Researchers in New Zealand and the UK recently came out with a weight loss device that magnetically closes the wearer’s jaw. This means they have to stick to a liquid diet. Unsurprisingly, people on social media are very upset by this.
Internet Upset Over Weight Loss Device That ‘Locks Jaw Shut’
It’s well known that the secret to weight loss is a change in habits, particularly in your dietary ones. There are healthy ways to do this that result in a healthier body and a happier mind. Then, there are things like fad diets and other methods that result in the opposite. Research teams from the University of Otago in New Zealand and scientists from Leeds, in the UK, developed a now-controversial weight loss device that seems like one of the latter. (1)
The device, called Dental Slim Diet Control, is a magnet that specially fits the individual wearer. The magnet makes it impossible for the user to open their jaw more than two millimeters wide. This effectively forces them to consume a liquid diet. The team described it as “the world’s first weight loss device to fight the global obesity pandemic”. (2)
The First Trial
Seven women in New Zealand were fitted with the device for one week. The magnets are attached to the back upper and lower teeth. During this time, they were given a commercially available liquid diet. They were unable to eat any solid foods. The women averaged a weight loss of 5.1% of their body weight, which equated to about 6.36kg or about 14 pounds.
“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 Professor Paul Brunton, who helped develop the device. “It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures.”
The Women’s Opinions
Though the device achieved the goal it set out to, the women were less satisfied with the tool than its developers. They reported feeling uncomfortable and that speaking was more difficult. They also felt that life was overall less satisfying with it in. One participant even admitted to melting down chocolate and drinking soda.
The Internet’s Opinion
Social media users have not taken kindly to this type of weight loss device. They’ve called it a “torture device” and claimed that it is just another interaction of “fat phobia”. (3)
“They literally want to wire people’s mouths shut to avoid gaining weight and people are still questioning if fatphobia exists?” one person wrote on Twitter.
“We COULD start by not fat-shaming and generally educating people about having a healthy relationship with food,” said another.
People also questioned how “new” and “innovative” this product actually is. They pointed out that it was strikingly similar to the practice of wiring people’s jaws shut in the 80s, which had some pretty serious risks that came with it. Lastly, many pointed out that while this will undoubtedly help people lose weight quickly and in the short-term, it will not support long-term health or keeping the weight off.
The Development Team’s Response
The researchers and scientists involved responded to the allegations of having created a torture device that promotes fatphobia by clarifying what the weight loss device was intended for. They claim that its real purpose is a short-term solution to help people lose weight who need to in order to have other weight-loss surgeries done. In many cases, those who suffer from obesity are required to lose a certain amount of weight before they can have other required procedures done. This, the team says, is what the device is for.
“After two or three weeks they can have the magnets disengaged and the 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.”
What is your opinion – is this weight loss device helpful or harmful?
- “An intraoral device for weight loss: initial clinical findings.” Nature. Paul A. Brunton, et al. June 25, 2021.
- “Researchers develop world-first weight loss device.” Otago. June 28, 2021.
- “Controversial “Weight-Loss Device” That Locks Jaws Shut Sparks Outrage Online.” Newsweek. Anabelle Doliner. June 28, 2021.