Tuesday, August 3
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“DentalSlim Diet Control” Device That Magnetically Restricts Users to an All-Liquid Diet Is Officially My Villain Origin Story – The Mary Sue

The DentalSlim

I’ve been fat for most of my life and with that comes an ever-changing inventory full of weight loss techniques that I’ve never asked for. People swear these tips are for my personal wellbeing and not at all because they’re uncomfortable with a fat woman sitting next to them on an airplane, SO uncomfortable, in fact, that they’d be cool with my mouth being magnetized shut.

What I expect when someone tries to sell me on a diet is the (insert food or drink here) diet, you know, that diet where all you do is eat or drink one thing? The one that finds that one person who swears that they lost weight from eating nothing but potatoes or cabbage soup? The one that experts react to like this:

via GIPHY

But the DentalSlim sounds like a straight-up medieval torture device, something obviously bad for your well-being but it’s promoted positively because sure, it’s dangerous, but at least you won’t be fat anymore.

Here’s what the University of Otago says in their article about the DentalSlim:

DentalSlim Diet Control is an intra-oral device fitted by a dental professional to the upper and lower back teeth. It uses magnetic devices with unique custom-manufactured locking bolts. 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.

The lead researcher of this delightful Jigsaw trap, University of Otago Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Brunton, goes on to say that the device is both safe and affordable, the perfect tool for folks battling obesity.

Obesity, of course, has been my primary concern lately, there’s nothing else globally pandemic-y going on right now.

The device is fitted by a dentist, can be released by the wearer in case of emergency, and can be repeatedly fitted and removed.

I’m not gonna pretend like I know a damn thing about dental care, but something tells me that removing and replacing magnetic devices on your teeth whenever you feel like it is … bad. I wore braces for years and once they were on my teeth, they were ON my teeth until my dentist removed them. I didn’t have a killswitch for them, then again, they weren’t made for the sole purpose of making sure my fat ass could only drink smoothies.

Like. Do I take them off when I sleep?

Can I brush my teeth?

What is your definition of an emergency that would require their removal?

Professor Brunton goes on to say that, “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.” Followed by, “It is a non-invasive, reversible, economical and attractive alternative to surgical procedures,” and ends with, “The fact is, there are no adverse consequences with this device.”

Um.

Okay.

A couple of hours after the tweet was made, more information about the DentalSlim was added to the thread in an attempt to make it sound like it was more than a poster child for fatphobia because, it um, sounds like the poster child for fatphobia.

If you’re curious, in the article shared about the device, this is a small, easy to miss paragraph caked between passages that reveal the “alarming” percentage of obese people in the world and how those who used the DentalSlim felt better about themselves after finally finding a way to face this, quote, “global epidemic.”

Needless to say, social media was not kind about this horrific method of weight loss.

Note: the article about the DentalSlim actually references this because yes, there was, in fact, a period where wiring people’s jaws shut was used as a way to lose weight.

The practice of surgically wiring people’s jaws shut became popular in the 1980s, but it came with risks; vomiting brought with it the risk of choking and after 9 to 12 months the patients developed gum disease. In some cases, there were continuing issues with restriction of jaw movement and some developed acute psychiatric conditions.

If you want to read more about that tasty nugget of 80s nostalgia, there’s an entire report right over here. I guess Brunton has decided to evolve wired jaws into magnetized ones? I’m sure that’ll be fine, right?

For argument’s sake, I suppose we should ask, are liquid diets an effective method of weight loss?  Well, according to this U.S. News article the short answer, like most of these crash diets without any medical professional on hand, is yes … followed swiftly with, “You’re doing more harm than good.”

 “It is restrictive (of calories), so you will lose weight, says Wesley McWhorter, the director of culinary nutrition for the Nourish Program at the Center for Healthy Living at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health. In general, weight loss is basic math: Consume fewer calories than you burn, and you lose weight. That’s why this – and any restrictive, low-calorie diet – will work short-term.

But that comes with a caveat: “Is it sustainable? Absolutely not. Is it healthy? Absolutely not,” McWhorter quickly adds. He is far from alone in that belief. “Following a liquid diet is not a good long-term strategy for weight loss,” says Kristen Smith, a registered dietitian, bariatric surgery coordinator for Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta and author of a blog that promotes healthful eating.

Not to mention that things like the DentalSlim assume that the key to weight loss lies solely in restricting someone’s ability to eat. It also doesn’t take into account the dangers of forcing this on your body. As McWhorter says (in regards to liquid diets), this is a temporary solution that isn’t even a solution because it’s not sustainable, not healthy, and just an all-around bad idea when it comes to taking care of your body.

Now take that and add magnets IN YOUR MOUTH.

While I’m glad to see the overwhelming response of “what the ever-living fuck” in regards to magnetizing your mouth, it’s frustrating that there are groups so uncomfortable with my body that they spend time and resources to create something that’s so obviously awful. It’s also a reminder of how fatphobic our society is. There are plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of “lose weight feel great” methods that are praised even if there’s evidence of them doing more damage to your body.

Even if I’ve come to expect disdain for my body, it’s still shocking to see, in a time where we’re facing a literal pandemic, that this is what a group of researchers felt the need to focus on.

I hope everyone keeps this same energy when the next research group makes something just as horrible—if not more horrible than this.

(Image: University of Otago)

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