This is the good news about a recently-patented gadget that sucks food out of the stomach: it could work as a last-ditch effort to get obese people to shed some weight. This is the bad news about said gadget: the method might be a little extreme.
AspireAssist, created by Segway inventor Dean Kamen and a team of bariatricians, works like this. A valve gets surgically implanted in the user's stomach, and the gadget sends a tube through it into their belly. About 20 minutes after eating, the gadget sucks out some food, and when the user squeezes a bag filled with water, the liquid gets sent back into the stomach instead. Rinse and repeat until up to 30 percent of your meal is gone. (There's no anesthesia involved, but some sedatives will be used along with it.) It's already available in some parts of Europe, but no FDA approval yet.
Here's the word from the gadget's site:
In a trial, obese people who used it lost, on average, about half of their excess weight. That was about 45 pounds, according to the patent. But there were some hiccups, too, like when the machine had trouble breaking up certain foods. One patient "avoided eating cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese food, stir fry, snow peas, pretzels, chips, and steak."
Other than that, it sounds convenient (unless you live in China), albeit a little gross. Not surprisingly, though, convenience and effectiveness don't always inspire the greatest confidence when it comes to weight loss, and some experts are already a little wary of AspireAssist. One wondered to LiveScience if this was just an At-Home Bulimia Machine™. Nutrients from food are kinda important, after all, and removing one-third of them might not be such a good idea.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.