You’ve heard of a feeding tube, but how about a food vacuum? Aspire Bariatrics has applied to patent a device that assists people with weight-loss goals by sucking food from their stomachs through a tube.
The product—devised in partnership with Segway inventor Dean Kamen—has been tested on 24 obese patients and pumps about a third of each meal from the stomach before it can be digested. Aspire Bariatrics touts the device as an alternative to procedures such as gastric bypass surgery. According to the company, study participants lost an average of 49 percent of excess weight—the equivalent of 49 pounds—during a US clinical trial.
“The AspireAssist Aspiration Therapy System works by reducing the calories absorbed by the body,” the company said in a statement. “After eating, food travels to the stomach immediately, where it is temporarily stored and the digestion process begins.”
“Over the first hour after a meal, the stomach begins breaking down the food, and then passes the food on to the intestines, where calories are absorbed. The AspireAssist allows patients to remove about 30 percent of the food from the stomach before the calories are absorbed into the body, causing weight loss.”
Health experts criticize the product, however, claiming it doesn’t address the underlying issues that cause obesity.
“I haven’t seen anything as horrific as this before,” National Obesity Forum trustee Tam Fry told the Daily Mail. “You are supposed to eat and then digest, not pump your food out.”
Fry says the system may offer a quick-fix for lazy individuals, but weight loss is better achieved through eating properly in appropriate amounts.
“I understand that those who are obese need help, but we should be focusing on counseling and especially education,” he continued.
The clinical trial also revealed problems when the pump tried to break up large foods. One patient reported “clogging,” and had to avoid foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, pretzels, steak and Chinese food.