Scientists Invent Chip That Zaps Obese People When They Want To Eat

Joshua RogersJoshua Rogers in News, World
Published 15.08.19

I know there’s an old saying that ‘men think about sex every 7 seconds’, but for me it’s food. I think about it morning, noon and night, before I eat, during a meal, and even when I’m full.

My eyes are bigger than my belly, though, and every time I go into a restaurant or supermarket on an empty stomach, I end up ordering copious amounts of grub before barely making a dint on it.

Nevertheless, these last few months I have undoubtedly put on a few pounds – it’s relationships I swear; a girlfriend and Deliveroo is a dangerous combo – and so I need help to curb my spiralling appetite.


Well guess what? Science is here to help.

Thanks, science!

That’s because a team of researchers at Stanford University have developed a chip which could switch off the urge to overeat in morbidly obese people.

The team is now conducting a clinical trial involving six morbidly obese people with the the intention that the chip will zap the six participants with mild electric shocks when merely thinking about food.

The chip, known as a responsive neurostimulation system (RNS), was developed by medical technology company NeuroPace and was actually intended to help treat people with epilepsy and those who suffer from seizures.


When the chip is implanted in the brain, it starts tracking brain activity and monitoring the way it works, sending the sufferer a mild electric shock when it detects the onset of a seizure.

However, in a recent study published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same technique could be used to stop binge-eating patterns after tests were done on mice to prevent habitual behaviour.

And now the Stanford scientists plan to discover whether the technique could also work on humans who have a tendency to binge eat.

The clinical trial will be conducted over a period of more than five years and will involve the six participants having the chip implanted in their brains for at least 18 months at a time.

Brain activity will be monitored for six months before turning on the stimulation of food to look for the pattern of activity in the brain that signals the starts of a food binge.

However, the bad news for me is that the procedure isn’t for skinny/fat people like myself, rather, for those with a body mass index (BMI) of over 45 and who haven’t lost weight from gastric bypass surgery or cognitive behavioural therapy.


“These are patients who are essentially dying of their obesity,” Dr Casey Halpern, from Stanford told Medium’s health outlet Elemental.

The technology is clearly a nascent breakthrough but there’s certainly a wealth of optimism about where it could lead.

Doesn’t look like it’s going to sort my gut out, though – there’s really only one way to sort that.

A very long and arduous date with a treadmill.

Why cant being healthy be easy?

Images via Getty