Otago University faces backlash after creating weight-loss device that restricts people to liquid diet

The DentalSlim only allows the wearer to open their mouth 2mm.
The DentalSlim only allows the wearer to open their mouth 2mm. Photo credit: Otago University

Otago University is coming under fire for a new weight-loss device that limits users to a liquid diet.

When fitted, the 'DentalSlim Diet Control' stops a person from opening their mouth all the way. Magnets in the device only let the jaw separate two millimetres - big enough for a straw.

Outrage over the DentalSlim's creation began when Otago University posted news of the new creation on Twitter on Monday. 

The tweet describes it as a 'world-first weight-loss' device and reveals it was researched and trialled on seven obese people over a two-week period before it was announced.

But the post is being bombarded with outrage with over 800 comments from people expressing their anger.

"This is a torture device and you should be embarrassed to be promoting it, let alone to be associated with it," one says.

"This is why ethics needs to be taught in science, this is horrible," another adds.

One commenter directly addresses the research findings, arguing: "You wrote, 'obese people may suffer eating disorders together with stigmatization and discrimination'. Yet, your device is doing the exact thing. This is the definition of disordered eating!"

However the lead behind the project, Professor Paul Brunton, is defending the device, saying it's effective, safe, and doesn't disrupt speech when worn.

Prof Brunton told Newshub he thinks the Twitter comments are based on a misunderstanding of his research.

"The device is for people who are morbidly obese who need to lose weight rapidly for medical reasons."

Otago University also tried to calm the angry commenters on Twitter by re-tweeting: "The intention of the device is not intended as a quick or long-term weight-loss tool.

"It is aimed to assist people who need to undergo surgery and who cannot have the surgery until they have lost weight."