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Squatty Potty Wants To Revolutionize Toilet Sitting

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A new toilet business wants to spur the squatting revival.

Robert Edwards is the creator of the Squatty Potty, a device that fits around the base of a toilet and makes it easier for users to squat, instead of sit, on the john. Squatting, Edwards says, can end hemorrhoids, prevent colon disease and offer numerous other health benefits. Um, ok.

“The modern toilet has been sold to us as civilized, but the straining that sitting causes is not healthy,” Edwards tells NPR’s "Shots" blog.

The 37-year-old contractor and designer isn’t the first person who's tried to cash in on the decades-old theory that humans are better suited to squat. Slate has a good round-up of other squatting devices, such as Nature’s Platform, a $150 item that fits over toilets to make them more like holes in the ground. There’s also the In-Lieu, the Lillipad and the Evaco toilet converter, each of which cost at least $90.

But when Edward’s noticed that his elderly mother, who suffered from hemorrhoids and constipation, was using a bulky step stool to achieve a more vertical posture, he decided to create a squatting platform that takes up less space and costs around $35 a pop.

In the last year, Edwards tells NPR that he’s sold 10,000 Squatty Pottys without any advertising. His pitch to customers is backed up by a growing body of research -- and a nifty cartoon -- that suggests squatting during defecation reduces straining, which is the main cause of hemorrhoids.

A 2003 study by Israeli doctor Dov Sikirov tested the idea by surveying subjects whom he asked to try each of three positions: sitting on a 16-inch-high toilet, sitting on a 12-inch-high toilet and squatting over a plastic container. Sikirov found that, when squatting, subjects averaged 51 seconds to move their bowels, compared with 130 seconds when sitting on a high toilet. When squatting, subjects were also more likely to rate their experience as easier.

Edwards is in good company as a newcomer to potty innovation. Billionaire Bill Gates recently set out to improve the modern-day john. Earlier this year, his foundation hosted the Reinvent The Toilet Fair in Seattle, with the ultimate goal of developing a sanitation system that eliminates waste without the use of running water.

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