Home Friday 5 Friday 5: Five Things VERY Wrong With A Personal Stomach Pump

Friday 5: Five Things VERY Wrong With A Personal Stomach Pump

by Erika Nicole Kendall

A couple of days ago, ABC released a story about the creation of personal hand-held stomach pumps.

No, really.

Called the AspireAssist device, it works by sucking the food right out of the stomach so that only about a third of the calories are absorbed by the body.

Patients wait 20 minutes after eating, then empty 30 percent of their stomach contents into the toilet through a tube — a small, handheld device connects to a skin-port discretely embedded on the outside of the abdomen.

Calories not digested are calories not absorbed, which, say the inventors, leads to weight loss.

In a one-year trial of 24 obese patients, patients on average lost 49 percent of excess weight, the equivalent of about 45 pounds.

Mikael Cederhag, 55, of Sweden was one of them. When he had the AspireAssist device implanted last year he tipped the scales at 264 pounds. Now he’s at 200 pounds and still losing.

“This is it for me. I’ve been jumping up and down in weight for 30 years,” Cederhag said. “Finally, this is a solution that allows me to get my weight down and stay that way.”

Katherine D. Crothall, president and CEO of Aspire Bariatrics, the maker of the AspireAssist, said she understood why people might find the idea of the pump “gross” but insisted it offered a viable way for morbidly obese people to drop pounds.

“Some people manage to lose weight on a diet, but the kinds of changes you need to make to keep it off are probably not sustainable for many,” she said. “There’s a lot to be said for people being in the driver’s seat with their own body, with their own health. This allows a patient to do that while under the care of a physician.”[source]

I tried to not quote the entire article and was failing miserably…. so I’m going to work backwards. That being said, I’m going to pull five (or so) quotes from this article that show me why this – and anything like it – is essentially the worst idea I’ve ever heard of in my life when it comes to weight management.

aspireassist stomach pump

Whew, somebody help us all:

1) This is medically assisted bulimia. The end. I could, really, end the post here,… but y’all know me:

Called the AspireAssist device, it works by sucking the food right out of the stomach so that only about a third of the calories are absorbed by the body.

Calories not digested are calories not absorbed, which, say the inventors, leads to weight loss.


“People often wish they could just eat and make the calories go away,” [Ayoob] said. “It was only a matter of time before someone came up with this.

How do we explain this to all of the bulimics, in recovery, who used the binge and purge system as a means of weight management because “If it comes back up, it can’t stick?” How do we explain to bulimics that the logic behind why they did what they did was wrong, but so long as they gave some money to big pharma, they could have medically assisted bulimia?

2) It allows 55 year old human adults to believe they don’t have a problem… or that they do have a problem, however a personal stomach pump is the solution:

“This is it for me. I’ve been jumping up and down in weight for 30 years,” Cederhag said. “Finally, this is a solution that allows me to get my weight down and stay that way.”

It’s 2013 – you’ve been jumping up and down in weight since… the 80s? (Right around the time when processed food and the low-fat craze got their boom….but I’ll chill.) It’s such a problem that you’re… now willing to walk around with a stomach pump attached to you? All day? You want an open vessel between your stomach and your skin – between the inside and the outside of your body that your body didn’t come born and built with… yuck – that you can’t clean, can’t fully protect from infection, that could even potentially tear the lining of your stomach with one false move (isn’t this, in more or less words, a lot like a stomach ulcer?), and that the body will, undoubtedly, treat as a foreign substance all because you can’t figure out how to eat?

And, on that note…

3) A personalized stomach pump falls right in line with the mentality that the problem isn’t “the food,” it’s “the people.” It’s the myth of personal responsibility. We make pharmaceutical companies list the entirety of the risks of their drugs in their commercials; NyQuil has taken to putting “non-habit forming” on their cough syrup because they had to admit to and accept the fact that people become addicted to it. Food? No…if you’re addicted to a food, it’s because the food is soooo good, you can’t control yourself! This is something manufacturers aspire to! (No pun intended.) They aspire to create something addictive, and they don’t even bother with the flavor of it anymore. Put in enough sugar, fat and salt, and it’ll hook anyone. Cheetos taste like trash; bet money their pockets are still fat.

We are allowing the public to be manipulated. Period. Do we tell alcoholics that they just need to learn moderation? Do we tell heroin addicts they need to learn moderation? No. We tell food addicts that they should just learn to moderate intake of the thing to which they’re addicted… and we never let them admit the addiction is real.

We just enable their addiction by telling them that, as a means of controlling themselves, they need things. Things like a personalized stomach pump.

4) This device is enabling emotional eaters. Plain and simple. This quote:

“This is an enabling device, not a helping device,” Ayoob continued. “It doesn’t do anything to make someone change their relationship with food. Once you put this in someone, they’re never going to want it taken out.”

and this quote:

Crothall said that her company hadn’t looked at how weight loss is maintained once the device is removed but was marketing the device for long-term use. She said that trial participants were offered counseling to help them modify their eating habits, but there was only anecdotal evidence that any of them made changes.

go hand in hand for me. This device enables people to eat their feelings, and Crothall knows it and is banking on it – and, by “it,” I mean the desire to have this just because it is a “polite bulimia machine” – being what makes her company billions of dollars.

Yes, billions. With a B. A capital B, at that.

“Trial participants were offered counseling to help them with their eating habits?” Do you think that, if they were receptive to initial simple “changes to eating habits,” they’d need a personal stomach pump?

Hadn’t even considered what people are supposed to do when it comes time to take the thing out? Listen. Listen closely. I’m going to tell you something important. The pressure to be thin, combined with the drive to eat emotionally, is so great… so high-stakes in this situation, that an emotional eater who manages to get one of these will actually experience relief and even trigger positive feelings through their internal reward system – the same system that creates the positive feelings that one gets after a binge on something sugary, salty, or fatty – and could compel them to become just as addicted to their precious stomach pump as they already are to the food they keep consuming against their better judgment.

I mean, for goodness sake, did you see this?

Cederhag said the device helped him avoid “disordered eating” by allowing him to enjoy normal meals while still losing weight.

“I don’t want to be seated at the table with an empty plate. This way I can eat together with my friends and my family, I can drink my beer or wine if I want to. And then I can just let go of 30 percent.”

55 years old, and you still think that losing weight means being “seated at the table with an empty plate?” If you really think the cause of your frequent weight fluctuation is “my beer or wine if I want to,” with the italicized implying that he may not always want to, then have you considered that maybe you drink too much? If you are really drinking enough that your weight is fluctuating, and it’s to the point where you’d rather get a personalized stomach pump

5) This right here, is the got-damn kicker:

Ayoob also brought up the point that chunks of food could get stuck in the tubing of the device, much in the way debris backs up in a sink drain. One trial participant reported such “clogging,” and had to avoid cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese food, stir-fry, snow peas, pretzels, chips and steak.

“With the tube it’s much easier to eat smooth and creamy foods like ice cream, pudding and cake versus hard or crunchy foods like fruits, vegetables and lean meats” — the foods most apt to promote weight loss — Ayoob said.

Check this out. You can’t eat the things that promote weight loss, you can only eat the things that promote weight gain…. which is why you need – need – to keep wearing the device long term.

Dude. This is the greatest big pharma scam ever in the history of big pharma scams. Of course you’ll never want to remove the device. You can eat smooth, soft, dissolving foods – food that will probably obliterate your blood sugar and cause any number of components of metabolic syndrome – without having to suffer the consequences of such! Wooooooo, this is hilarious.

The pump, according to Crothall, will “only perform a limited number of aspirations until the number has been reset by the doctor.” If doctors are out here assisting patients in abusing prescription meds, what makes you think they won’t be out here assisting patients in abusing this? Especially if the patient is well-off, or in some other way useful to the doctor?

And what about maintenance? What about upkeep? Is this something that, while you’re so busy wearing it long-term, you’ll need to replace frequently? Is this something that expires, and needs additional surgery to modify? Does it need yearly maintenance?

You guys… I am overwhelmed by the awfulness of this. Somebody hold me.

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Courtney January 18, 2013 - 12:31 PM

Jaw on the floor. I’m glad you had the words because I have none to describe how horrible this is. Seriously, this reads almost like an SNL skit from the 90s; like it’s too absurd to actually be real.

DoctorNay January 18, 2013 - 1:02 PM

Erika, I am glad that you followed up on this story. I read it and knew right away I needed to share it with you. All of your points were spot on. But, number 5 was the one which made me SCREAM when I read the original article. So we are enabling people to be bulimics and encouraging them to continue to eat processed foods since real, whole, natural foods could get stuck in the tube upon aspiration! Not only does this machine support big pharma but the processed food industry as well. I am sure that Nestle, Kraft, & Coca Cola to name a few are well pleased!

Also, aside from the health and science of it all, I just have a EEEEWWWW ICKY response every time I think of this device.

Debbie January 18, 2013 - 1:27 PM

I’d like to know how easy building core would be to have something like that sticking in your side!

Erika Nicole Kendall January 18, 2013 - 6:15 PM

…but the pump would make you skinny! Who cares about strengthening your core? *blank stare*

Mobetta January 18, 2013 - 2:03 PM

Ma’am!! It’s only Jan…you can’t be pulling out April’s Fool jokes like this.

This is so ridiculous it’s comical. Especially the “don’t eat roughage” part. Seriously?! This reads like an Onion article.

I am speechless.

Shawnie January 18, 2013 - 2:06 PM

WOW! I’m not sure what to say about this…. Kinda disturbing tho!

Cher January 18, 2013 - 2:11 PM

Meanwhile, there are people STARVING for food.
This is going right back to epicurean times with vomitoriums.

Rae January 18, 2013 - 2:57 PM

Like really????
Erika yes to everything u said!!!
Butt honestly, my only reaction is…

Rosalind January 18, 2013 - 4:27 PM

That’s disgusting in soooo many ways. Eek!

MM January 18, 2013 - 7:46 PM

So sad that this is even an option.

Kitana January 18, 2013 - 9:16 PM

This is wrong on SO MANY levels. I can’t believe how willing people are to get hooked up to machines, sliced and diced on, etc., to lose weight. I mean, I understand the desperation, I’ve been there, but… NOPE. Even in my deepest pits of despair with considering a lap-band, I just couldn’t stomach (no pun intended) the thought of foreign objects in my body.

Lee January 18, 2013 - 10:39 PM

I saw this under my “science/technology” board a little while ago and I couldn’t believe it at all. I keep thinking that this is one the most disgusting things they could have come up with for a “solution” for weight loss.

ab January 19, 2013 - 12:43 PM

you know whats really crazy about the drive to be thin under the disguise of being healthy?

Well what happens when 90% are chemically induced thin but abjectly weak? with no impulse control and on a permanent sugar high?

oh and this is what being a cyborg is about. We all fantasized that it would look half machine half human oh no…
The real cyborgs will be crappy plastic waste pipes rigged inside of you, with metal hip replacements (at young ages (not through trauma caused by physical activity but lack thereof)

Its not rocket science, we all need to eat real food. We will stumble whilst learning to do it.
We need to be active, work it into our lives, lay a team sport or something.

Its not about being thin, thin doesn’t say you are fit, thin doesn’t say you eat well, thin won’t save you from diabetes, thin doesn’t mean pretty.

Rebecca B. January 20, 2013 - 4:24 AM

Unbelievable, I was bulimic as a young adult and I am horrified/not surprised that ‘science’ is creating these devices.

This is a short term solution, as soon as the pump is removed the weight will come right back and more than before.

Putting off the pain of changing your eating habits till later is never a good move. It will still be looming in the darkness waiting for you to pay attention to it.

Very sad , and what kind of issues will arise from potential stomach acid leaks into the body cavity where the vital organs are located!!!

I have a feeling this ‘company’ will be drowning in litigious backlash in the future.

Great site, Love your passionate writing style.

Mrs. R.

Tracy January 20, 2013 - 12:51 PM

WHO in the world wants to observe the contents of his/her stomach, post-digestion, emptied out of their body?! I’m so disgusted by the idea and concept that I MUST distract myself from the thought… I just… UGH!!!

Jeff R. January 21, 2013 - 9:32 AM

This is totally ridicolous!! I though I saw all in life but this is quite new. Just to make sure… Really…. Is this thing even secure to start with? I’m a strongly believer that anything too much far from “nature” have some side effects at least. I would imagine if I was in my own body shoes. I would surely react in a negative way. No joke here! I’m a bit scared too, just to thing someone came up with an idea like this… Creepy!

Alicia January 21, 2013 - 11:20 AM

Voluntarily putting a hole in the stomach to suck out food is too much. That is opening a person up to infections ie MRSA, staph, etc.

KalleyC January 25, 2013 - 11:17 AM

This is just crazy! A pump to get rid of the “excess” food that the person ingested? So personal eating habits is not the issue here? Wow. Honestly. This just astounds me.

Neisha January 25, 2013 - 12:12 PM

This has got to be one of the laziest, nastiest, ways to lose weight that I have ever read about. I am in the fight but believe in the proven age old method of watch what goes in and exercise regularly! When I stick to this I see weight loss when I don’t I see weight gain. Now I know everyone’s body is not the same but when will we accept that there is not get thin quick method out there that doesn’t put our lives in danger in other ways. Ugh…

Felisha January 26, 2013 - 10:48 AM

Has any one thought about the risk of infection that goes along with the stomach pump? The time spent under anesthesia if required at the time of having this hole put through all the underlying tissues. Recovery and healing time. Sometimes these can leak. I don’t agree with this method of weight loss; but for some folks this is a matter of life and death. I do think some people abuse it. Perhaps taking it away after losing some of the weight along with counseling on how to eat and an exercise plan would be most helpful. Stuff like this needs close monitoring by a doctor or nurse to keep it from getting out of hand.

DeeJay February 8, 2013 - 6:19 PM

I….can’t even process that this is not an Onion article, or a Saturday Night Live skit script. Stomach-turning, nauseating, disgusting – and those are adjectives that have nothing to do with the sad people who buy into this as a solution, but the craven individuals who market and profit from this ill-conceived device. I’ll bet they are banking their cash now for the lawsuits that will surely follow. Fen-Phen, anyone?

DW September 13, 2013 - 2:09 PM

This is the most disturbing thing I’ve read in a long time.

Kami October 27, 2013 - 12:25 PM


LKS June 28, 2016 - 9:20 PM

The absurdity of this is just un-effing-believable! I lost my 22 year old daughter to bulimia in 2007, and hearing about this was a sucker punch in the gut! I was so hoping it was just a sick joke, but why am I even surprised! Of course this is assisted bulimia! What the actual HELL is wrong with these people?! I’m envisioning tort lawsuits in the near future…

Aqua-detritaponicsNerd September 7, 2017 - 3:55 AM

this was beautiful to read…this is hilarious…i wanted to see if there is a pump to get rid of leftover toxins from stomach that have trouble breaking down, i think friction from lubercated tube is better than wear of stomach acid or tax on liver and other organs, as it comes out one way or another….now the definition of organic i got from the community center was 300pages long…..do we need to talk about this too? can everyone stop ruining food and not chemical it so much….its just not needed friends….i cant eat any of your toxic trash…i grow my food as much as i can but i cant always cuz im busy. yall food is nasty….saturated with poisions…..we need more clean food. more food worth eating. everyones lazy tho…you dont care. i go to the store and you push product and service that are much worse than what i can do at home, how you stay in buissness eludes me, i am upscalling garden so i dont have to deal with rude poision any more. so bye bye to you, i contact labs they say f*** off so if no nice to me i no share either. you fix maybe i share better how to farm clean food. play nice; never know whos holden what aces. good luck. me never come here again bye bye.

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