Researchers at the New Zealand’s University of Otago, in collbaoration with researches from the UK, have developed a device — the world’s first — to fight global obesity. Dental Slim Control, an intra-oral device, is fitted by a dentist to the upper and lower back of teeth and it restricts a person to a liquid diet. The product uses magnetic devices with custom-manufactured locking bolts. It limits the opening of the mouth of the wearer to about 2mm, just enough for a liquid diet. The researchers, however, said that the Dental Slim Control doesn’t restrict your ability to speak and breathe.
People, who took part in the Dunedin-based trial, lost an average of 6.36kg in two weeks, researchers said, adding they were even further motivated to continue their weight-loss journey. Professor Paul Brunton, lead researcher, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Otago Health Sciences, said that the device will be an effective, safe, and affordable tool for people battling obesity. “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,” Brunton said in a statement.
Researchers said that even though a dental professional fits the Dental Slim Control, wearers can remove it anytime they want, adding it can be repeatedly fitted and removed. “It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures,” Brunton said.
But people on Twitter expressed shock and even asked the team to reconsider their idea.
User @ravenscimaven wrote, “Delete this. Delete the research team. Delete everything.”
Delete this. Delete the research team. Delete everything.
— Dr. Raven the Science Maven (@ravenscimaven) June 28, 2021
Another user, @SaraFeistiness, quoted a participant from the paper published in the British Dental Journal. “After 24 hours, the participants indicated that they occasionally felt embarrassed, self-conscious and that life, in general, was less satisfying,” the post read.
From the paper in the British Dental Journal, “After 24 hours, the participants indicated that they occasionally felt embarrassed, self-conscious and that life, in general, was less satisfying.” pic.twitter.com/3UOnheh6AM
— Sara Leiste, PhD (@SaraFeistiness) June 28, 2021
“Not to be gross here but if someone vomits while wearing this they will choke to death or aspirate. Also bad for dental hygiene. Can’t brush properly or floss. Bad idea all around,” commented @squishsmawmaw.
Not to be gross here but if someone vomits while wearing this they will choke to death or aspirate. Also bad for dental hygiene. Can’t brush properly or floss. Bad idea all around.
— I’d do sketchy stuff for coffee (@squishsmawmaw) June 28, 2021
User @Polymathically expressed shock and said there was a need for ethics to be taught in science. “Good God, I thought medicine was past these kinds of torture devices,” the user added.
And this, kids, is why ethics needs to be taught in science.
Good God, I thought medicine was past these kinds of torture devices.
— Justin Boot ∞ (@Polymathically) June 28, 2021
Seeing the criticism, the University added two more tweets to the original one and clarified what the purpose of the device was. “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 tweet read.
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.
— University of Otago (@otago) June 28, 2021
It further said that a wearer can get magnets disengaged and the device removed after two to three weeks. “They could then have a period with a less restricted diet and then go back into treatment,” the University tweeted. “This would allow for a phased approach to weight loss supported by advice from a dietician.”
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.
— University of Otago (@otago) June 28, 2021
Speaking of people’s experience, Brunton said that overall they felt better about themselves, were more confident and committed to their weight loss journey. “Patients who really want to do this have to be committed,” he said. “This could actually help a lot of people.”
Studies have revealed that that 1.9 billion of the world’s adults are overweight, while about 650 million are obese. Overweight or obesity leads to about 2.8 million deaths a year. Not just that, according to some estimates, about 57 percent of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.
Brunton said that besides the aforementioned factors, psychological symptoms, including embarrassment, depression and loss of self-esteem may also be present among obese people. They may also suffer “eating disorders” coupled with “stigmatisation and discrimination.”