FDA Approves Tube That Sucks Food Out Of Stomach To Lower Calorie Intake As An Acceptable Obesity Treatment

The device consists of a pump, valve, and hose. YouTube

In the past few years, researchers have gotten better at creating technology that sounds too futuristic to be real: three-parent embryos, lab-built cells that make insulin for diabetes patients, and 3-D printed replacement bones are just a few. Now we can add a device that literally sucks food out of your stomach to the list.

AspireAssist, a tool intended for obese adults struggling to control their weight with traditional methods, has just won approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here’s how it works: doctors surgically insert a hose into the patient’s stomach and connect it to a valve sitting flat against the patient’s skin. About 20 to 30 minutes after eating, the patient can open the valve and attach a pump and drain approximately 30 percent of the calories consumed. The discarded food goes right into the toilet.

The FDA announced that it had approved AspireAssist after a clinical trial involving 111 people who used the device alongside “appropriate lifestyle therapy” and a control group of 60 patients who only received lifestyle therapy. The group using the device lost an average of 12.1 percent of their body weight after one year, compared to just 3.6 percent for the control group.

The FDA does warn of some side effects, of course — occasional indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea, along with troubles from inserting the tube, such as soreness. Overall, though, the administration is giving a green light to the obesity management technique.

“The AspireAssist approach helps provide effective control of calorie absorption, which is a key principle of weight management therapy,” said Dr. William Maisel, deputy director for science and chief scientist at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological health. “Patients need to be regularly monitored by their health care provider and should follow a lifestyle program to help them develop healthier eating habits and reduce their calorie intake.”