The answer to people who want to eat and diet at the same time

As Blubbergeddon is a little on the back burner for a number of us, the latest in surgical “marvels” eliminates the need for any self discipline

In a new attempt to control New Zealand’s obesity epidemic, severely overweight patients will have a stomach drain installed through which they pump out excess food.

Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland will run a trial of a device called Aspire Assist, which is installed in a 20-minute outpatient visit requiring no more than conscious sedation.

The backers of the technique view it as a relatively straightforward alternative to state-funded obesity surgery, for which the hospital is unable to meet demand.

Weight can be hard to shed and keep off long term. Thirty per cent of Kiwi adults and 10 per cent of children are obese. New Zealand is the third most obese of developed countries, although some Pacific island states have rates twice as high.

The Aspire Assist device involves joining the stomach to an external valve, via a tube through a hole in the skin. Twenty minutes after meals, the patient connects a hand-operated pump to the valve and drains around 30 per cent of the stomach’s contents into a special container for disposal – unwanted calories discarded before they can be absorbed by the body.

If I have to be absolutely honest with you, this would be the sort of life style gadget that I’d love to have. ? I love my food. ?I love tastes and textures and crunch. ?It’s not about hunger as much as it is about the experience. ?

Middlemore hopes to treat at least 10 people in a trial designed to see if their weight loss is sustainable and whether the treatment is better than obesity surgery. The trial is for people whose BMI is between 35 and 55, which equates to bodyweight of about 120-170kg for a person 185cm tall.

The maker of the device says that in a United States trial, patients lost on average 21kg after having it in place for a year.

The idea has attracted scorn from some, including gym nutritionist David Hill, of the Otahuhu Recreation and Youth Centre, who said: “It sounds a lot like bulimia – you eat and you purge.”

Can’t argue with that. ? Although it’s more like the vomitoriums of old where Romans would eat and purge, eat and purge…


It’s obviously an answer for some people, but I can see this becoming a life style gadget, with the same sort of stigma as breast implants, and another step on the path where we modify our bodies into various kinds of enhanced cyborgs.


– Martin Johnston, NZ Herald