With New Zealand weighing in as one of the most obese nations in the world, University of Otago researchers say it's the perfect time to introduce their world-first medical weight loss device.
Dental Slim Diet Control has been perfected over five years at Otago University, producing very fast weight loss in patients in its first clinical trial.
But it only indicated in the most extreme cases.
“When the patient bites together the magnets engage and that limits jaw movement,” says University of Otago Health Sciences Professor, Paul Brunton.
The Dental Slim Diet Control creates a two millimetre gap between the teeth, meaning the person using it can only ingest liquids for a period of two weeks.
“It’s functionally quite comfortable so you don't feel like your jaws in a steel trap,” says Brunton.
It's taken more than five years and four prototypes for researchers to get to this stage but the first clinical trial has been a huge success.
“The device was worn by seven patients who lost on average about six kilograms over the two week period which equates to about five per cent of their body weight,” Brunton says.
Professor Jim Mann of the University of Otago Medicine faculty says the results are remarkable.
“I think they've achieved something quite remarkable and that has been achieved without major side effects with an approach that seems reasonably acceptable to the small number of people on which they've tried it.”
Although it's not a long-term solution to the obesity epidemic - with one third of New Zealanders classed as obese, it will be perfect for short-term weight loss goals to enable surgery to go ahead.
“There will be patients who can't have a general anaesthetic because of their weight so it could be used in preparation before orthopedic surgery.” says Brunton.
It could also help those with type two diabetes.
“There is now evidence that one can achieve with significant weight loss total remission of type two diabetes for a prolonged period of time,” Mann says.
The next goal is to find a commercial partner to make the unique components as well as start a larger patient trial.