In his most recent column, Mark Bittman posted a link to a newly patented device: The Slow Bite. This oral, disposable device is inserted before mealtime between the upper and lower jaws (with an applicator, it is important to add) to limit the amount by which the mouth can open. According to the website, consequently, the device “moderates eating without spoiling the pleasure associated with eating and without impairing speech.” This will potentially slow the rate of food consumption and thus will “decrease the hunger feeling.” In other words, the Slow Bite is a noninvasive cousin of the LAP-BAND. Most importantly, perhaps, it “can be used without embarrassment when dining in company.”
I have so, so many questions. It seems possible that there are other uses of the Slow Bite that could be relevant to public figures prone to hasty speech and damaging media exposure. And let’s not forget the cosmetic appeal. Smile too big? Fillings too obvious? Floppy tongue? The Slow Bite can fix it!
In all seriousness, though, it seems hard to envision the effectiveness of such a device when obesity is a multifaceted problem with social, economic, behavioral, and cultural origins. Quick fixes rarely work and don’t address the root causes of the obesity epidemic. Moreover, eating is a pleasurable, social activity that helps us create bonds with friends and family. We shouldn’t need a bind to bond.