New weight-loss device lets you eat all you want then drain the food out of your stomach

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The most surprising thing about the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the obesity-control device called AspireAssist may be how little mainstream attention it attracted. Because, frankly, a weight-loss machine that lets you eat all you want and then drains the food out of your stomach is a pretty startling invention.

AspireAssist works like this: In a 15-minute outpatient procedure, a surgeon implants a tube into a patient’s stomach. The tube is connected to a valve that lies flush against the skin of the abdomen. Twenty to 30 minutes after every meal, the patient opens the valve and uses a connecting device to drain the stomach contents into a toilet. “The device removes approximately 30 percent of the calories consumed,” the FDA said in announcing the approval on June 14.

But is it actually just a “medical bulimia machine”?

That’s what Yoni Friedhoff – family physician, obesity medicine specialist and professor at the University of Ottawa – asks in his blog Weighty Matters. “Superficially it really does sound horrifying,” he continues.

Although few major news outlets made much of the FDA decision, a number of bloggers responded – usually with fury.

The FDA approval said that the machine is intended for obese people who have been unable to lose weight by other methods and that it should not be used by anyone with an eating disorder.

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