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This medieval new weight-loss device works by locking your jaw

The diet industry takes a step into the Dark Ages with a new way to wire your jaw shut.

It's not braces, it's the newest weight-loss device.
University of Otago

Diet culture's inventions are no stranger to controversy, but one of the most recent weight-loss methods to go viral takes the cake. Researchers in the UK and the University of Otago -- a New Zealand institution that prides itself on "relevant, innovative and connected" research -- developed a device that locks users' jaws and stops them from consuming anything other than a liquid diet. 

The DentalSlim Diet Control uses magnets and "custom-manufactured locking bolts" to clasp the jaw of whoever is wearing it down to about 2 millimeters, which is enough space for breathing and talking, according to a press release from the University of Otago. It has to be put in by a dental professional, and it also has an emergency release function. You know, just in case.

The device was developed to "help fight the global obesity pandemic," per the university. University of Otago Health Sciences Pro-Vice-Chancellor Paul Brunton called it "an effective, safe and affordable tool for people battling obesity." Researchers say the device could be particularly helpful to people who need to lose weight before surgery, or those who have diabetes. 

DentalSlim was also offered as an alternative to weight-loss surgery, such as bariatric surgery, and the jaw-wiring surgeries of the 1970s and '80s that brought on choking risks, psychological issues and other health problems.

Chelsea Kronengold, associate director of communications for the National Eating Disorders Association, told the Washington Post that DentalSlim is "barbaric." Christy Harrison, a registered dietitian, told lifestyle site Shape that there is "no reason to put people of any size on a restrictive diet like this," and that the device is a "recipe for disordered eating, weight cycling and weight stigma."

"I think researchers and practitioners continue to promote dieting and restrictive practices like this because diet culture has convinced them that weight loss by any means necessary is preferable to being at a higher weight," Harrison told Shape. 

The research on the weight-loss device was published in the British Dental Journal in a study that included seven people. In two weeks, the participants did lose weight, but reported trouble pronouncing some words and felt embarrassed "only occasionally." They also indicated that "life in general was less satisfying," but researchers concluded that the people who completed the study were "further motivated to continue their weight loss journey."

In the study, the authors say that the main barrier to successful weight loss with dietary advice and restriction is "poor patient adherence." DentalSlim does solve that problem, as people will be forced to adhere while their jaw is bolted shut. 

It's well-established in nutrition research that people who go on diets tend to lose weight in the short-term and gain it back over time. Even in the DentalSlim study, in which participants did lose weight, all of them gained weight back two weeks after the device was removed. The study also doesn't address how having your mouth closed would interfere with the increased oxygen needed for exercise, which is a proven way to manage weight loss. 

In addition to its oppressive nature, this new weight loss device might be one to pass on because it doesn't take into account the complicated mix of factors that contribute to weight loss and gain. The DentalSlim simply takes away control over your body

If you're trying to lose weight, sustainable long-term changes to your exercise and eating habits remain the best way to go. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.