Wouldn't January be easier if, instead of cutting out unhealthy food and jogging, dieters could employ a gadget to suck away that Christmas fat? Well that's what Dean Kamen is thinking. Mr Kamen, inventor of the Segway, has applied to patent a pump that can suck food and drink straight out of the stomach, allowing users to eat to their heart's content - then drain everything away through a valve surgically installed into their abdominal wall. Innovative or what? Still, if that seems a little OTT (and the tool is designed for the morbidly obese), here are other ways to lose the flab without breaking too much sweat.
Go to bed when it's dark
Researchers at Ohio State University discovered that mice exposed to light at night weighed 10 per cent more than their peers after an eight-week study, despite the fact that both overlit and normally-lit mice ate the same food and did the same amount of exercise. Several studies confirm that the effect isn't limited to mice; people working late night shifts also get fatter.
A number of Harley Street clinics promise to retrain your brain so that it enjoys going to the gym and eating healthy food. Lily Allen tried one out in 2007, saying: "After the hypnotism, I want to go to the gym every day, otherwise I feel really bad". Spooky.
All users have to do is stand on this device (which resembles a wheel-less Segway) and vibrations cause muscles to contract and relax, giving the body a quick and powerful workout. These have been described as the "microwaves of fitness": short, ferocious, and
inevitably fattening comparatively cheap, at around £199. Plus, you can imagine Madonna doing the same thing - she started the Power Plate bandwagon rolling back in 2007.
Anna Wintour wouldn't be seen dead in a pair of these, but what's worse - shoes with a rounded sole or bellies with the same convex design? This footwear forces wearers' feet into a rolling heel-toe motion, promoting higher calorie burn than straightforward walking and improving the posture.
Turn down the thermostat
Homes in the US and UK have been getting warmer over the last three decades, and researchers think this might be causing weight gain. Simona Bo of the University of Turin surveyed 1,500 middle aged adults over a period of six years and found that those whose homes were in the top third for temperature were twice as likely to be obese. This isn't coincidence; a temperature below 18°C causes the body to burn "brown fat" to stay warm. Though effects might be marginal, if you are slobbing on the couch, it's worth dropping the thermostat.