Did The FDA Just Approve "Assisted Bulimia?"

With obesity levels as high as they are, it makes sense that weight loss procedures are on the rise. For many people, these procedures can mean living a healthier life instead of being ill and likely dying from a metabolic disorder. Because there are so many obese people and because there are so many people feeling desperate for a solution, it shouldn't come as a surprise that someone has tired to find a way to make weight loss procedures easier and in some ways, more accessible. Enter AspireAssist. Just this week, the FDA (Food And Drug Administration) approved this device which is designed to help people consume fewer calories by draining one third of the stomach contents following a meal. Yes, you read that properly! A surgeon makes a small incision in the abdomen and inserts a tube into the stomach. This tube connects to a valve on the outside of the body. Twenty to thirty minutes after eating, the user attaches a small external device to the valve, opens it, and the stomach contents are drained into the toilet. If you still can't get your head around this idea, have a look at this video that shows you exactly how this process works: https://youtu.be/nC6FkP5JZVk This procedure has people talking. With the installation  lasting only about fifteen minutes under sedation, it is a lot faster, and less invasive, than the traditional gastric bypass surgery. It also seems to work. In a year-long trial, participants who were equipped with the device, and given nutrition and exercise counselling lost 12.1 percent of their body weight while the group that had only received counselling lost 3.6 percent. Shelby Sullivan, M.D., director of bariatric endoscopy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis was one of the doctors involved in the trial and she says that this process doesn't work because it dumps calories, it works because users eat less food. "They have to chew their food really well (particles have to be really small to aspirate) and drink water for it to work, so that slows them down and helps them register fullness," says Sullivan. But not everyone is thrilled with this device and its FDA approval. Some are considering it to be a form of "assisted bulimia." “There’s a lot of abuse potential here—people with those eating disorders are going to say, ‘This is what I’ve been waiting for,’” says Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., author of The Doctor’s Detox Diet The Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription. “The way people eat today is more of a grazing or snacking pattern than three square meals," says Gerbstadt. "And with obese patients it happens mindlessly—so are they going to eat a candy bar and then remember to purge it? That’s really a nuisance.” Aside from startling potential abuses, the device is also a little high maintenance. It requires going to the doctor every five to six weeks to have parts replaced and you have to be very careful about the foods you eat. Things like raw broccoli and tomato skins are not to be eaten as they can get caught up in the tubing. Doctors who regularly perform weight loss surgeries remain skeptical and believe patients will ultimately decide for themselves whether or not this is an appropriate course of treatment. It just sounds complicated. Certainly more complicated than eating a balanced diet and starting an exercise routine. If you find the right program, it really isn't that hard at all. Maybe it is an aquafit class at your local gym or maybe it is following along with our Beginner Bootcamp. And no matter how inconvenient working out can be, it can't be more inconvenient that going the washroom twenty minutes after every meal, to spend ten to fifteen minutes draining your stomach contents into a toilet. What do you think? Could this device be a life changing miracle or is it just offering another quick fix with serious potential for harm? Tell us your thoughts in a comment!

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