The year is 2020 and John, who is 4.5 kg overweight, is on a diet which involves walking through a device that looks like an airport scanner and having his love handles “zapped” off by laser.
The “fat fryer” is one of several medical breakthroughs predicted by scientists writing in the British Medical Journal. Intelligent nappies, which diagnose childhood ailments, and microchips implanted to monitor the chronically ill will become commonplace, they say.
The fryer is a laser which destroys excess fat, which the body then eliminates through the normal bodily functions leaving people much lighter within three days. “No side effects will be seen apart from the re-sizing of (the patients’) wardrobe,” writes Donald Combs, associate dean of the health planning department at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Professor Combs was asked to identify emerging technologies that will be to the 21st century what aspirin, X-ray and antibiotics were to the 20th century.
Wave technology, or the use of light wavelengths to steer the destruction of specific cells, could be used to destroy cancer cells in isolation but with greater accuracy than radiotherapy.
People suffering from long-term illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes could have microchips implanted under their skin to monitor their heart and respiratory rates, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Similar biometrics could be used to monitor pathogens in babies’ urine and faeces; the nappy would change colour as the baby developed a cold.
The predictions come 20 years after a ground-breaking futurology study brought together 227 of the world’s leading scientists to predict developments in medicine by 2000.