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If You Could Eat What You Wanted AND Lose Weight, Would You?

It might sound good in theory, but the reality is appalling.

06/11/2016 8:04 AM AEDT
Paul Harizan
"I'll be back in a tic, I'm just going to empty the contents of my stomach."

There are some perks to having a doctor in the family, but there are also some drawbacks. For example, eating a meal with them when they are talking work. Just last week, after a huge meal, my brother-in-law mentioned a new weight-loss device recently approved by the American Food and Drug Administration.

The controversial weight-loss device he spoke about is the AspireAssist, a device which allows obese patients to literally pump food from their stomach through a tube and into the toilet.

And it's not even considered major surgery. In fact, the patient is typically attended to while under ''twilight'' sedation in a 15-minute procedure. The tube is inserted through a small incision in the stomach and a disk-shaped valve is connected to the tube. This valve lies outside the body, flush against the skin.

The AspireAssist works by reducing the calories absorbed by the body -- at least that's what their website says. In truth, it sounds like an easy way to eat more than you need without gaining weight.

Once you have been fitted with the device, you simply need to wait around 20 minutes after eating and then connect tubing to the valve using a small handheld device. You then open the valve to empty your stomach contents into a toilet.

Sounds charming and I'm sure it makes for very good post-dinner conversation. "I'll be back in a tic, I'm just going to empty the contents of my stomach."

The makers of AspireAssist claim that the device works while "helping you make gradual, healthy changes to your lifestyle", but given what could be described as medically assisted bulimia, one has to wonder how you are making healthy changes to your lifestyle while spilling the contents of your dinner into the toilet. Where would your motivation be to change your eating habits if you were losing weight by eating whatever you wanted and then retreating to the bathroom to dispose of it?

How does one learn about portion control and the importance of exercise and healthy eating when you are given the choice to just eat and expel the extra calories? It seems to me to be teaching you the exact opposite -- eat, release and don't change a thing.

But more troubling than the eat-as-much-as-you-can aspect of this device seems to me to be the first -world privileged thinking behind it.

It appalls me to think that while there are people searching for solutions to end world hunger on the one hand, there are people encouraging pure gluttony to be flushed down the toilet. The same people who balk at genetically modified food that could sustain people unable to grow food in their part of the world, could be the very same people who stand behind a surgically installed device to get rid of food that you just can't say no to.

The UN's World Food Program estimates almost 800 million people, that is one in nine, struggle to find enough food to eat on a regular basis. According to UNICEF, chronic malnutrition has stunted the growth of 40 percent of children under the age of five. And the American Food and Drug Administration are approving a device that allows people to literally flush food down the toilet.

This is very different from our parents telling us to eat everything on the plate because there are children starving in Ethiopia. This is putting money and resources into finding a way to allow people to overeat without the guilt or the weight gain. Surely that money should be going to advancements in third-world hunger rather than first-world gluttony. It is little wonder to me that the first tab on the AspireAssist website is labeled "Investors".

We don't need a "cure" for obesity. We already know we need to expend more calories than we consume, not spend more money on surgical devices.​​

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