Weight-loss balloon helps shed twice the weight, study says
If you’re struggling to lose a serious amount of weight, imagine you had a weight loss option that helped more than diet and exercise, but wasn’t as invasive as gastric surgery.
Enter the Obalon balloon system, a new treatment that involves swallowing balloon-filled capsules to curb overeating.
According to new research, it helped obese people shed almost double the weight compared to people who made diet and lifestyle changes alone.
The FDA-approved system (slated to hit the market in January) consists of three tiny capsules, each containing an inflatable balloon attached to a catheter. People swallow each of the capsules, three weeks apart, and X-rays are taken to ensure they are in the right spot.
Gas is then pumped through the catheter, filling the balloon up. The catheter is removed, and the patient goes home with a small balloon (or balloons) in his or her stomach. The balloons stay there for six months — filling up the stomach, so people feel full and don’t eat as much. After that, they are removed via minimally-invasive endoscopic surgery.
In the most recent study, presented this month at an annual conference of obesity experts, researchers gave 387 obese volunteers the balloon treatment or sugar-filled capsules, which were complete with catheters and designed to look like the real thing. A registered dietitian met with volunteers every three weeks, helping them to make healthy lifestyle changes.
After six months, those who got the real Obalon treatment had lost 6.81% of their total body weight (about 25% of their “excess body weight,” or the amount they’d have to lose to have a BMI in the normal range), while those in the placebo group had lost only 3.59%. So, for example, for people who weighed 200 pounds and needed to lose 50, those in the Obalon treatment group would have lost 13.6 pounds compared with 7.2 pounds in the control group.
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