It is said that desperate times call for desperate measures. Indeed, we may be in the midst of desperate times for obesity: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 35.7 percent of Americans are obese. Experts say that half of American adults are projected to be obese by 2030. But are measures so desperate that we need to resort to a machine to suck food out of our stomachs? Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based company Aspire Bariatrics is betting that we are - and they have filed a patent, along with Segway inventor Dean Kamen, in order to provide their prescribed solution.
According to the company's website, the idea works like this: a doctor makes a 1-centimeter incision and inserts a small tube, called the A-tube, in your stomach. That tube serves as a pump and connects to a valve that sits on the abdominal skin. You are able to eat whatever and whenever you want. Twenty minutes later, the pump sucks out the contents of your stomach.
In the patent filed by the company, the company reveals that the pump has shown an astounding amount of success for obese patients. Participants in the trial lost an average of 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds. In addition, the procedure is supposed to be minimally invasive; patients can return home after one to two hours after the placement of the tube, and the valve can be inserted in just five minutes. New Scientist reports that because it is less surgically invasive than other gastric bypass methods, it can help patients avoid bizarre hormonal and psychological side-effects of such surgeries, like sipping iced tea and finding that it tastes like chicken.
However, if the pump and valve sound like your cup of tea, it is not yet perfected. One section of the patent details the tribulations of one trial participant, who "[squeezed] the tube to enhance propulsion and to break up large food...The patient changed her dietary intake to avoid tube clogging. She avoided eating cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese food, stir fry, snow peas, pretzels, chips, and steak. In addition, her diet was supplemented with potassium." Some may find that inconvenience to be worth it though; the patient weighed 220 pounds at the start of the trial and, over the course of 59 weeks, lost about 85 pounds.