Healthy Evidence

"Gastic balloon in a pill" news

Most of the media are covering the story that a leading group of private hospitals in the UK are going to start offering obesity treatment in the form of a swallowable gastric balloon pill - see for instance, this from The Guardian

It sounds a bit disgusting, but could it be the quick-fix weight loss aid some are looking for?

We'll probably cover this tomorrow on Behind the Headlines (barring other more interesting, shocking or popular stories), but in the meantime you may want to consider two things:

1) If you have this treatment, you may want to avoid climbing big hills:

2) Having gastric interventions for obesity ain't always what they're cracked up to be (as my mum will tell you):

4 Replies

As someone who is morbidly obese, this is a subject that is close to my heart (liver, kidneys and anything else wrapped up in fat)

For reasons unrelated to my weight directly I was looking up what hospitals in this country offered in the way of bands, bypasses and so on.

Digging into the small print, a few of them were honest to point out that there is a significant failure rate reflecting on those that either do not lose a lot of weight or who put the weight back on afterwards. One hospital helpfully pointed out that for this to work you would have to still modify your eating behaviour and diet.

Begging the question of not whether this is a quick fix, but whether this is, in reality, any fix at all!

Personally I find starving the rest of the family (so I don't have to cook) is the best way to diet....


Classic content-free piece of information taken from the Obalon FAQ “ Some participants lost less weight than the average and other participants lost more than the average”


And here's our analysis:

It turns out that similar therapy is already available on the NHS, so just a well-timed press release by a firm of private hospitals has caused the media fuss.


Thanks for that Rob

A very cynical side of me thinks that maybe part of the success is down to the price - after spending around £4000, I wouldn't have money left for shopping!

The problem with all of these mechanical interventions (as with non mechanical like just not eating) is sustainability.

I personally believe that the reason that obesity is growing is not that we somehow are bad at losing weight, or even that we don't exercise enough, but that we have educated ourselves to just eat too much of everything. I have severe weight issues, but I do not eat junk food (I hate it). I have a good balanced diet - but I eat too much quantity. You could eat two Big Macs and Chips a day, and if that was all you ate (1000 kcal), you would lose weight. The problem is not the Big Mac, the problem is that we eat our normal daily meals, PLUS the big mac!

Until we can somehow address this quantity issue, I think Obesity will continue to be a growing problem (sorry!) and any diets or interventions like these balloons will be long term money trees for the practitioners.

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