Food can now go right through you—literally. The FDA recently approved AspireAssist, a controversial weight-loss tool that vacuums food out of the stomach before the body can digest it. Surgeons insert a tube into the stomach, which connects to a “disk-shaped port valve” on the patient’s skin. After 20 or 30 minutes, eaters pump roughly 30 percent of calories consumed out of their stomachs, directly into the toilet.
The FDA notes that this device is only meant for extreme situations, saying that the ideal candidate is obese, at least 22 years old, and has already tried losing weight through other avenues. Critics, however, have lambasted the product, calling it “assisted bulimia” and noting that it is “an enabling device, not a helping device.”
Naturally, the device has its fair share of side effects. The FDA warns of a plethora of these: occasional indigestion, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea are all noted, not to mention complications from the tube itself, which can create issues both in the stomach and around the valve.
Studies show the device dramatically improves weight loss, but the tube’s propensity to “clog” means that its users can’t enjoy certain foods. The “no-no” list includes broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese food, pretzels, and steak. But for patients suffering from obesity, perhaps that isn’t such a bad trade-off.