New device is supposed to help you lose weight by locking your jaws shut!

Otago, New Zealand - This idea backfired big time! Scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand unveiled a new device on Wednesday that aims to help people lose weight by locking their jaws, but it didn't take long for their idea to draw criticism.

The device is designed to block the mouth and make sure wearers can only eat liquid food (stock image).
The device is designed to block the mouth and make sure wearers can only eat liquid food (stock image).  © Waroot Tangtumsatid/123RF

As Vice reports, the device was called "evil" and "disturbing" on Twitter, among other things. "You guys are creepy. Get help and develop some shame!" wrote one user on the platform.

The outcry seems pretty justified. The apparatus was initially promoted as the world's first non-invasive device that could help fight the global epidemic of obesity – by preventing sufferers from eating solid food.

No joke, the magnetic device is supposed to actually attach to your teeth and prevent your jaw from opening too wide.

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"Wearers can only open their mouths by about two millimeters, limiting them to liquid foods, and speaking and breathing are not affected," a statement from the university said. The device was touted as being easily reversible, except that it requires a special tool to unlock it in case of emergency.

Test subjects are reported to have lost about fourteen pounds in weight over two weeks.

This is what the invention looks like, and it doesn't look too comfortable

University recants their pitch

Twitter users seemed to have a particular problem with the university pitching the device as a means of combating obesity.

Many of them noted that the condition is often a product of complex factors, such as metabolism and socioeconomic situation, which cannot be solved simply by clamping one's mouth shut.

The university eventually recanted slightly, explaining that its invention was not meant to be used as a simple weight-loss device. It still promoted the device, despite acknowledging that solutions similar to wiring a jaw shut were risky and included "the danger of choking on vomit, gum disease, ongoing issues with jaw movement and acute psychiatric conditions."

If that didn't seem like a good enough response to what Twitter users eventually started calling "a torture device," the university added yet another disclaimer:

"To clarify, the intention of the device is not intended as a quick or long-term weight-loss tool; rather it is aimed to assist people who need to undergo surgery and who cannot have the surgery until they have lost weight," it said in another statement.

Cover photo: Waroot Tangtumsatid/123RF

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