Jeff Vrabel: The future of American weight loss

Jeff Vrabel

There are lots of ways to lose weight these days. You could have part of your stomach clamped off, you could binge n' purge, you could sample any number of delicious chemical medications, shakes, cocktails, injections, pudding cups, synthetic meals or genetically modified livestock. You could also consume fewer calories than you burn off in daily activity or exercise but ha ha come on who seriously would do that it's just madcap whackadoo crazy talk.

Far less crazy is the idea of the AspireAssist, a new product born in America's fledgling over-the-counter weight-loss medication industry and the latest magic bullet for the admirably tenacious chunk of the country's food aficionados who, bravely in the face of hundreds of years of medical science, expert analysis and that kind of good old-fashioned American common sense that everyone's grandpappy apparently had, believe it's possible to drop pounds without modifying one's portion size or occasionally going for one of those walks your grandpappy told you about.

The AspireAssist, and I have to reiterate that this part is real, takes the food you've decided to eat, since you're theoretically a sentient adult who isn't being force-fed a kids' wagon full of blueberry pies (unless you are, in which case try to escape immediately, forced-pie-eating crimes are on the rise), and vacuums it right out of your stomach before it's converted to fat and sadness. If it works, the machine makes it so you only absorb about a third of the calories in the food you eat, and I think we can all agree that attaching an electronic machine to your body to slurp out 2/3 of the material you consumed is immeasurably more convenient and uncreepy than not eating it in the first place.

It is called "AspireAssist" because aspire means "direct one's hopes or ambitions toward, in this case toward a brave new America where you could chork down a 17-lb. sandwich in which the bread has been replaced by two slabs of flash-frozen largely synthetic chicken without worrying that it's going to stay in your system for more than a few minutes." I'm gonna go ahead and assume that it's not covered by insurance. Even Obamacare. Probably.

The idea comes from a group of inventors, including the creator of the Segway, and you all know how you can't go 10 feet in any urban space without running into an impenetrable wall of Segway traffic. It is also, one assumes, not an inventors' lab that you want to be in for ONE MINUTE LONGER THAN YOU HAVE TO. Also you're going to want to wear gloves. And goggles. And one of those spacesuits from "E.T." And if any of the researches have had a recent Mexican meal you should just probably stay out of the facility altogether.

According to ABC News, the device works like this, and be warned, the following description isn't for those who might be squeamish about the idea of a tube embedded in the abdomen that empties directly into a toilet. It's a tube embedded in the abdomen that empties directly into a toilet. The story says the device is "discreetly" embedded, but I think we can all agree that when talking about devices designed to empty chewed food from a human stomach into a toilet the word "discreet" becomes really, really relative. Frankly I'm not really sure how to make it less discreet, really, unless you attach speakers that play "Rock You LIke A Hurricane" or maybe, every time it empties, an air horn goes off.

Normally this would count as an unusually bizarre story, but sadly for the AspireAssist it's twice-dead fake car-crash girlfriend week here in America, so I kind of feel like they're getting a pass? Besides, the device is as yet only available in "select regions of Europe," which is the only phrase in this column more unsettling than "including the creator of the Segway," because everyone knows when they say "select regions of Europe" they mean "12 counties on the eastern side of Slovakia." But who knows. Maybe this is the future of American weight loss, as long as it never springs a leak.

Jeff Vrabel is a proud Slovak and doesn't want a bunch of hate mail from Slovakian people, largely because it will smell an awful lot like onions and goat. He can be reached at and followed at