Originally created 05/24/04

Latest weight-loss gimmick requires you to see the dentist



ATLANTA -- It's hard enough to go on a diet. The latest dieting gimmick makes you go to the dentist, too.

An Atlanta company plans to begin selling a dental device that fits in your mouth and forces you to take smaller bites.

It could help you lose weight - as long as you actually use it when you eat. The gadget isn't permanently attached, so you can leave it out and wolf down big bites anytime you want.

But Scientific Intake believes its DDS System is more palatable than a strict diet or surgery. The company expects to begin selling its devices Wednesday for about $400 apiece.

The company's chief executive says he lost 14 pounds simply by wearing it off and on over five months.

"Many people today ... eat so quickly their stomach doesn't have a chance to get message to the brain" to stop eating, said CEO William Longley. "This helps slow you down, so you feel satisfied on less food."

To get the device, a dentist takes a mold of your mouth and sends it to Scientific Intake, which produces the plastic retainer-like gizmo and ships it back to the dentist for fitting.

With 30 percent of U.S. adults considered to be obese, health officials, nutritionists and even entrepreneurs such as Longley have been searching for answers.

Nutritionists agree that the DDS gadget could help, but some were mystified as to why anyone would spend hundreds of dollars for this approach.

"You don't need a $500 appliance to do this," said Madelyn Fernstrom, director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center said. "It's not a system - it's simply a physical barrier to eating."

A baby spoon could accomplish the same thing, she suggested. And for the money, she said, some people might want to get a personal trainer.

Still, the company lists a prominent obesity researcher among its scientific advisers, Kelly Brownell who heads Yale's Center for Eating and Weight Disorders. And at a major gathering of diabetes and obesity doctors, Scientific Intake presented results of a study that showed 24 overweight adults lost an average of nearly six pounds with the device over a month.

"This is a significant attempt to ... help people try and change their behavior, but we need more longer-term proof," said Judith Stern, professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California at Davis, who was not involved in the study. "Losing weight is relatively easy. Keeping it off is really, really hard."