It is billed as a “world-first weight loss device” against global obesity, but it is the stuff of horrors for many on social media.
The device, dubbed DentalSlim Diet Control, uses magnetic devices fitted to the top and bottom rear teeth to restrict people from opening their mouth any wider than 2mm.
That, researchers say, effectively limits the participant to a liquid diet, while not restricting breathing nor free speech.
But that did not stop scores of people on social media from sharing their bite-sized opinions about the device, which was developed by University of Otago and British researchers.
‘’I think this is absolutely awful. How degrading,’’ wrote one Twitter user, responding to the University of Otago post.
‘’Yes, the problem is that us fatties can’t keep our mouth shut.’’
Another asked: ‘’Is this satire?”
Participants in the Dunedin-based trial lost an average of 6.36kg in two weeks, a paper published in the British Dental Journal said.
Seven people participated in the trial, of which one dropped out for an unrelated reason.
A safety feature incorporated into the device allows for it to be disengaged in the case of an emergency, such as a panic attack or the possibility of choking.
Lead researcher, University of Otago Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Brunton, said the device was effective, safe, and affordable tool for people battling obesity.
The journal article noted most patients experienced occasional discomfort due to the device, and it was quite severe after 24 hours, with the friction of the device against the cheeks being the main reason.
Unsurprisingly, participants found it difficult to talk for as prolonged a period as they were used to.
Participants also found the liquid diet monotonous.
Brunton said the device, which was fitted by a dentist, helped participants establish new eating habits.
“It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures.
“The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device.”
An estimated 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, and it is estimated about 57 per cent of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.
Brunton said the ‘’beauty” of the device was patients could have the magnets disengaged after a couple of weeks.
“This would allow for a phased approach to weight loss supported by advice from a dietician allowing long-term weight loss goals to be realised.”
Kath Fouhy, chief executive of Dieticians NZ, said she could see the device being used for patients who needed to lose weight prior to surgery.
It was a different device when people had their jaws wired shut, which came with risks, including gum disease, vomiting and the risk of choking.
‘’But I couldn’t imagine using it across a population just to lose an extra couple of kilos.”