Do-it-yourself stomach pump sucks food out of you before it's digested

Critics says quick fix doesn't solve obesity.

TAMPA - A new weight-loss invention will let dieters eat anything, because they can then suck the food straight out of their stomachs before digestion. Some critics are horrified, saying it doesn't tackle the causes of obesity.

A company video begins, "After a meal, food travels to the stomach, where it is temporarily stored and digestion begins."

The ad is for the Aspire Assist, a new weight loss invention that may let dieters eat anything they want and still lose weight.  

It's supposed to work like this: the pump stops the body from digesting a third of each meal by pumping it out of the stomach via a tube inserted in the abdomen.

We asked Dr. Jay Wolfson, associate vice president of USF Health to weigh in. "I think it's an outrageous idea."

While he concedes the device may have value to the morbidly obese as an alternative to other bariatric surgery, he says, "If someone who is just a little overweight uses this, what it does it speaks to the abject loss of personal responsibility in our culture. This says 'I can do anything I want and I'm no longer responsible for anything I do.'  We're almost there now. So this is... this is... actually, it's kind of sick."

Jane Norman, a nutritionist and diabetes educator with the USF Diabetes Center, agrees.

"It's a great concern," said Norman. "We're continuing the disordered eating and possibly even creating a new problem. It is very similar to bulimia."

On their website, the company that makes the Aspire Assist claims to have clinical experience with 24 obese patients over three trials in the U.S. and internationally. In the U.S. clinical trial, they claim patients lost, on average, over 45 pounds in the first year and they say the device has a low risk of serious complications.

Marilyn Yarbrough, an USF employee, says she might be tempted to try it. "It's kind of intriguing. You get to eat what you want and your body gets rid of what you don't digest, right?"

But USF student Randy Fabre says it is disgusting.

"I'm a big food person, but after seeing that, that would throw me off. I'm not even joking," said Fabre. "Seeing a friend eat and they pull out a pump and suck the food out of their stomach? I'm not for it, sorry."

For more information on the Aspire Assist, visit www.aspirebariatrics.com/overview.html .

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