In a jaw-dropping attempt to curb the obesity epidemic, scientists have created a weight-loss device that uses magnets and locking bolts to clamp the teeth together.
DentalSlim Diet Control, created by researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand, is fitted by a dental professional to the upper and lower back teeth.
It only lets the wearer open their mouths by about 2mm, restricting them to a liquid diet, but without preventing speech or – more importantly – breathing.
Once fitted, the device aims to stop anyone from gorging on solid foods that may go against their strict diet plan.
The creators describe it as ‘non-invasive’ – even though it requires ‘custom-manufactured locking bolts’ clamped inside the mouth.
In trials detailed in the British Dental Journal, participants lost an average of one stone (6.36kg) in two weeks and ‘were motivated to continue with their weight loss journey’, the experts claim.
This is not a joke: DentalSlim Diet Control has been created as a way to curb obesity – by clamping the mouth shut
Lead researcher, Professor Paul Brunton at the University of Otago, thinks the device will be an effective, safe and affordable tool for people battling obesity.
DentalSlim Diet Control can be released by the user in the case of an emergency and can be repeatedly fitted and removed.
‘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,’ Professor Brunton said.
Being overweight or obese results in about 2.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Pictured, a morbidly obese man
‘It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures. The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device.’
The tool could be helpful for those having to lose weight to undergo surgery, and for diabetes patients for whom weight loss could initiate remission.
WHAT IS OBESITY?
Obesity is defined by your body mass index (BMI) – a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.
If you have a BMI of 30 or over, you are obese. If it’s between 25 and 29.9, you’re overweight.
- BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703
- BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))
- Under 18.5: Underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
- 25 – 29.9: Overweight
- 30 or greater: Obese
DentalSlim Diet Control is also a better option than expensive weight loss surgery, according to the Otago team, which costs thousands of pounds.
Weight loss surgery plays a major role in the management of morbid obesity, but it cannot be relied upon to manage the global epidemic of obesity, Professor Brunton believes.
MailOnline has contacted Professor Brunton regarding how much the DentalSlim Diet Control would cost, and how far away it is from appearing on the market.
The practice of surgically wiring people’s jaws shut became popular in the 1980s, but it came with risks – namely, vomiting and the risk of choking, as well as gum disease after long-term use.
In some cases, there were continuing issues with restriction of jaw movement and some developed acute psychiatric conditions.
‘Alternative strategies are required which may obviate surgery, or which reduce weight prior to surgery and so make it easier and safer,’ Professor Brunton said.
‘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 support- term weight loss goals to be realised.’
In the trials, the volunteers were given a tool to open the device in an emergency, but none of them needed to use it.
They all described the device as ‘tolerable’. However, the design has since been improved, making it smaller to improve comfort.
‘Overall, people felt better about themselves, they had more confidence and they were committed to their weight loss journey,’ Professor Brunton said.
‘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.’
The terms ‘obese’ and ‘overweight’ are based on body mass index (BMI) – a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.
Recent studies revealed 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight (with a BMI of between 25 and 29.9) and 650 million are obese (with a BMI of 30 or more).
Being overweight or obese results in about 2.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It is also estimated about 57 per cent of the world’s adult population will be overweight or obese by 2030.
Scientists confirm a marked difference in weight loss between the sexes even when they stick to same amount of calories
In 2020, researchers observed a difference in weight loss between the sexes even when they stick to same amount of calories.
Men found it easier to lose weight than women, they revealed.
The findings came from The Direct Trial, a project led by Newcastle and Glasgow universities involving almost 300 men and women with type 2 diabetes.
They were put on a low-calorie (850 calories a day) diet to see if this would help them quickly lose 15 kg (about 2 st 3 lb) — a drop in weight it was hoped would reverse their diabetes.
‘Both men and women were on the same amount of calories so there should be no confusion,’ says Dr George Thom, a research dietitian at the University of Glasgow and co-author of the latest research.
The initial results, published in 2017 in The Lancet, found that half of the participants went into remission from type 2 diabetes.
But a new analysis (based on studying participants for another three years, published in the journal Diabetic Medicine) found that despite being asked to stick to virtually identical soups and shakes, there was a marked difference between the sexes.
After a year on the diet, the men had lost, on average, 11 per cent of their body weight. Women, by comparison, lost 8.4 per cent.
And the gap continued. After two years, men lost 8.5 per cent of their body weight and women lost 6.9 per cent. So why might this be?
‘We had asked people to stop all their normal foods and replace them with four formulated shakes or soups a day, so it’s really quite strict, and this ‘black and white’ approach to weight loss may suit men better,’ said Dr Thom.
In other words, they stick to it.
‘That’s possibly because the diet culture targets women from an early age, whereas men are more likely to feel the need to lose weight in middle age, so women are more diet-weary,’ he adds.
Men also typically carry more weight in visceral fat — the invisible fat around vital organs — whereas women typically have more subcutaneous fat (stored under the skin) around their thighs, bottom and hips.
This fat distribution pattern in females tends to be protective against a host of metabolic health problems — a combination of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, according to various studies which have shown that subcutaneous fat is associated with better health.
On the other hand, the visceral fat seen in men leaves them at greater risk, particularly from cardiovascular disease.
The result is that when men lose fat, it’s visceral fat, which improves metabolic risk factors leading to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
Women who diet are successfully losing subcutaneous fat, but without the same impressive results in either weight loss, the new study suggests, or marked health improvement.