Is it just me? Wiring mouths shut shouldn’t become the latest diet fad

Warning: this article may make you clench your teeth in rage

Welcome to 2021. You’ve survived a pandemic but despite the chaos the world is in, apparently the worst thing you can still possibly be in modern society is FAT.

Remember when TV series Insatiable hit our screens a couple of years ago (where a girl had her jaw wired shut after an accident and went from being fat to being fit and popular) and lots of people went “WTAF is this?”

Well, fast forward to now because sh*t just got real.

The University of Otago and UK researchers have developed a world-first weight-loss device to help fight the global obesity epidemic. An intra-oral device that essentially only allows the wearer to partake in a liquid diet because powerful magnets basically ensure they can’t open their mouths.

Yep, you read that right.

Looking very much like a (not-so-modern-day) torture device, it is cemented to the wearer’s teeth, stopping them from really being able to consume food. This obstruction naturally results in rapid weight loss but is hardly likely to create healthy or sustainable eating habits.

As the founder of SLiNK, a fashion magazine aimed at plus size women, I have fought for not just greater media representation but also acceptance of different body shapes. I have had the honour of discussing the plus size cause and why it remains such a contentious issue as well as why bullying and humiliating people into weight loss never works.

But even I was shocked by this latest weight loss plot twist.

From listening to many women over the years, it seems that the offer of weight loss surgeries is all too common and readily pushed, appearing often as both a last resort and a quick fix, offering the rapid results that we don’t see from long term diet and exercise change.

But with quick fix solutions it seems there is little thought given to surrounding issues related to obesity. I’m staunchly anti-BMI as a metric for a healthy body and believe firmly that we need to centralise discussions about health to include both physical and mental wellbeing. I understand the concern around obesity, but I certainly don’t believe that shutting the mouths of people who already often feel like they aren’t listened to by medical practitioners is the correct approach.

I’ve heard time and time again, from women in particular, how shut down they feel by medical professionals who hone in on their weight – often regardless of the medical problem.

We can blame obesity for straining the NHS as much as we like, but we’re still making very little headway in getting people healthier and happier for long-term gain; if wiring mouths shut is the best we can do, then we’re in a worst position than I thought.

The issue of obesity is a complicated one but I firmly believe that torturing fat people with devices to shut their mouths doesn’t deal with the real issues. For starters, we need to look at the cost of healthy living. Eating well on a tight budget with very little time to prepare food is almost impossible. Couple this with the fact that many schools scrapped home economics and the subsequent teaching of the most basic of cooking needs in schools and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Next we need to look at mental health, not just BMI stats. We have to want to look after our bodies and the only way we want to thrive is if we feel happy and valued. Locking someone’s mouth closed, preventing them from eating solid foods is torturous. It will lower the individual’s self-esteem and of course not put the user on the path towards long-term healthy living.

The ‘DentalSlim Diet Control’ is an intra-oral device developed by researchers at the University of Otago to ‘help fight the global obesity epidemic’: University of Otago

Being and feeling healthy is certainly something many aspire to, but we need to recognise and reinforce that healthy doesn’t necessarily have a dress size attached and often reaching real sustainably healthy living habits come with a lot of work. That work might include exercise and fitness but it also might involve exploring our food intake and how we can improve our diet, not necessarily ‘dieting’. It is through this exploration with our bodies and our diets that we can come to peace with how we engage with life to the fullest. This in turn leads to peace of mind and self-acceptance too. Offering what is deemed a ‘quick-fix’ weight-loss device denies the user of such methods. Quick fix and faddy diets may ensure someone sees fast results, but if healthier habits aren’t created, aren’t users doomed to the same depressing diet-industry cycle that has probably plagued them for years anyway?

While I’ve seen plenty of uproar on the ‘gram about this latest device, whether the desperation for thinness well prevail once more, we are yet to see.

But in our collective opinion here at The Style Life, it’s time to say enough is enough.

Feature Image Background Vectors by Vecteezy

further image: The ‘DentalSlim Diet Control’ is an intra-oral device developed by researchers at the University of Otago to ‘help fight the global obesity epidemic’, University of Otago

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