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Researchers have developed magnetic weight loss device that prevents people from eating solid food

Researchers have developed magnetic weight loss device that prevents people from eating solid food

In their war against the global obesity epidemic, Dunedin researchers came up with the idea of using magnets to lock the mouths of people almost shut to stop them from consuming more food.

Cover image source: Otago.ac.nz

The University of Otago and UK researchers have developed a brand new device that they claim helps with weight loss. DentalSlim Diet Control is a dental device that prevents people from opening their mouths so much that they can eat solid food. In their war against the global obesity epidemic, Dunedin researchers came up with the idea of using magnets to lock the mouths of people almost shut to stop them from consuming more food.

Dubbed as the world-first weight-loss device, the intra-oral device is supposed to be fitted to the upper and lower back teeth by dental professionals. Using the magnetic properties of the device and its unique custom-manufactured locking bolts, it doesn't allow the wearer to open their mouth any more than 2mm. While it restricts people to a liquid diet, the locking mechanism does not hinder speech or breathing, reports NZ Herald.

Otago University Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor and lead researcher Professor Paul Brunton assured that the device would be a safe, effective and affordable tool for people who are battling obesity. During the trial of the product in Dunedin, participants lost an average of 6.36 kgs (14.02 lbs) in just two weeks. Thus, they were motivated to go on with their weight loss journey. "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," explained Professor Brunton. 

Image source: Otago.ac.nz

"It really kick-starts the process. It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical, and attractive alternative to surgical procedures. The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device," he added. The tiny machine which would be fitted by a dentist can be released by the user itself in case of an emergency. It can also be repeatedly installed and removed based on the person's choice. 

Obesity is a preventable crisis that results in the death of nearly 2.8 million people every year. It is predicted that around 57 percent of the world's adult population will become overweight by 2030. "In addition, psychological symptoms may be present, including embarrassment, depression, and loss of self-esteem and obese people may suffer eating disorders together with stigmatization and discrimination," said Professor Brunton. 

Apart from fighting obesity, the device would really come in handy for those looking to lose weight right before undergoing surgery and for patients with diabetes for whom losing weight could initiate remission. Unlike bariatric surgery, which was used to tackle morbid obesity, this particular tool will not have unpleasant complications. It is also cheaper than the procedure which costs around $24,000 and patients "live with the consequences of that for life, which can be quite unpleasant." 

Image source: Otago.ac.nz

"Alternative strategies are required which may obviate surgery, or which reduce weight prior to surgery and so make it easier and safer. The beauty of it is that once patients are fitted with the device, after two or three weeks they can have the magnets disengaged. 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 allowing long-term weight loss goals to be realized," explained Brunton.

While the tool was initially described as tolerable by patients, the design has since been improved to be smacker and more comfortable. "Overall, people felt better about themselves, they had more confidence and they were committed to their weight loss journey," said Brunton. "It's hard yards. Patients who really want to do this have to be committed. But for those people who are really struggling - and let's face it, that's millions of people across the world - this is a way of getting them back into normal lifestyle diet habits by really pump-priming the process. This could actually help a lot of people."

Cover image source: Otago.ac.nz