A New Diet Tool Forces Your Mouth Shut with Magnets

  • It might have claimed health benefits, but this thing is seriously creepy.

If you’ve ever been on a diet, you’ve likely been tempted to just give up and treat yourself to something tasty. Maybe you’ve even wished you could weld your mouth shut to make sure you won’t give in to the temptation.

Well, now you can. But be warned – the solution seems more like it’d belong in an encyclopedia of medieval torture devices.

UK researchers, working together with University of Otago from New Zealand, have developed a new kind of weight loss device. Suppose it’s easy to lose weight when you literally can’t eat.

The DentalSlim Diet Control, as the device is called, consists basically of a couple of strong magnets. Once a dentist locks them to your back teeth, you won’t be gorging yourself since you can barely open your mouth at all.

“It is fitted by a dentist, can be released by the user in the case of an emergency and can be repeatedly fitted and removed,” said Professor Paul Brunton, lead researcher on the DentalSlim and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at University of Otago Health Sciences.

“It allows the wearer to open their mouths only about 2mm, restricting them to a liquid diet, but it allows free speech and doesn’t restrict breathing,” he explained.

So, yeah. If you ever wanted to lose weight by being forced to eat only water-thin soup, definitely go for this thing.

Photo courtesy of University of Otago.

‘No Adverse Consequences,’ They Say…

According to Brunton, his team was inspired to create the device to try and battle global obesity. He said its intended to help people who need to lose weight to establish new eating habits.

“The main barrier for people for successful weight loss is compliance. This helps them establish new habits, allowing them to comply with a low-calorie diet for a period of time,” said Brunton.

“It really kick-starts the process,” he summarized.

Brunton added that according to recent studies, 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight. He believes that psychological issues, such as shame, depression, and low self-esteem may prevent some of them from kicking the habit of overeating.

The DentalSlim is supposed to be a safer option than more traditional methods, such as weight loss surgeries.

“It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures,” Brunton said.

“The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device,” he added.

Suppose that’s true. That is, if you don’t count having your mouth forced shut as adverse.

Promising Tests

Still, we’ve tried wiring people’s mouths shut to induce weight loss before. The procedure ahs existed since the 1980s, but so far there have always been adverse consequences.

For example, if you happen to throw up without being able to open your mouth, it’s very easy to choke to death. Additionally, people have developed gum disease and “acute psychiatric conditions” from being unable to open their mouths.

DentalSlim supposedly does away with all that since the user can release the device at will.

“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,” explained Brunton.

“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.”

Brunton’s team has carried out potentially promising tests with DentalSlim. In one trial, participants lost 14 pounds in two weeks. As a result, they were motivated to continue losing weight.

That’s all well and good, but just one question, if we may. If you can release the magnets whenever you want… How is this thing supposed to stop you from eating an entire cake?

No, Sir, We Don’t Like It

Whether you like it or not, the fact is that appearances matter even in medicine. And the DentalSlim really, really doesn’t look or sound like an appealing device.

The University’s tweet announcing the DentalSlim hasn’t been received warmly.

“A world-first and world-last, I sincerely hope. This is a torture device and you should be embarrassed to be promoting it, let alone to be associated with it,” one user tweeted.

“Otago and UK researchers have developed a world-first weight-loss device to help fight the global obesity epidemic: a literal medieval torture device,” another quipped.

“A holistic solution to obesity that focuses on its socio-economic roots and promotes access to healthy, sustainable diets? No, let’s bolt fatties’ mouths shut and put them on a forced juice cleanse!” read another tweet.

In response to the influx of negative publicity, the university released another tweet clarifying the motivations behind DentalSlim.

“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 University explained.

They might’ve wanted to lead with that before suggesting people clamp their jaws together.