‘Eat what you want and lose weight’ – this is how I’ve seen this product reviewed on various online websites.

It’s called the AspireAssist – it’s a tube implanted in the stomach, with a port leading to the outside of the abdomen through the skin in your belly.  It basically acts like a tap – twenty minutes after you eat, you go to the bathroom, turn the tap on, and it drains about a third of what you’ve eaten directly into the toilet.     Ironically, it’s a similar set up to the PEG tube, which is a tube that has been use for a long time to FEED patients who can’t take in enough food by mouth (the direction of flow in the tube, of course, is in reverse).

Clinical trials have been done showing successful weight loss, and it has been approved for use in Europe.

My take on this:  I’m concerned for the following reasons:

1.  The most important part of treating obesity well is to deal with the underlying root causes of the weight struggle.  Are you an emotional eater or stress eater?  Is there limited access to physical activity in your life?  Are you sleeping enough?  Although lifestyle counseling is mentioned on the device’s website,  these concerns need to be central to any weight loss plan.

2.  I am worried that the message that this device will convey is that it’s ok to just continue eating for the same unhealthy reasons or in the same unhealthy pattern – just turn the tap on afterward to drain it out – which is clearly NOT an OK message to convey.

3.  I’m concerned that the device could become an enabler of unhealthy eating patterns.   Some web reviews have suggested that this is, or could induce, a form of bulimia – I agree that this is a danger as well.

You might ask, how is this different from currently available obesity surgeries? (you can read more about these here).  The main difference is that by decreasing the size of the stomach, the current surgeries do teach about lifestyle change, markedly decreasing the amount of food that can be consumed.  Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy also alter hormone levels that help to decrease hunger, whereas the AspireAssist and the gastric band do not.  That being said, addressing the root causes of the weight struggle are crucial to the success of any type of bariatric surgery.

BOTTOM LINE:  Draining the food you eat back out of your stomach doesn’t count as a positive lifestyle change!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

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