Obesity is a looming global health epidemic. It's a major risk factor for a whole gamut of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
But obesity is highly preventable. In fact, in a perfect world, sticking to a healthy diet and following a rigorous workout program consistently would shed off those extra pounds. Unfortunately, for some people, this is easier said than done.
Wouldn't it be nice if there's a magic pill that one could swallow to do the trick?
Intragastric Balloon: An Anti-Obesity Solution You Can Swallow
A research presented at the Obesity Week meeting in Los Angeles talked about an oral balloon pill that can help curb an obese person's appetite and help him lose substantial amount of weight in a short amount of time.
Although there are other existing gastric balloon systems available today, this new balloon technology called Elipse is the first of its kind. Unlike Orbera and ReShape, which must be inserted from the mouth down to the esophagus through endoscopy, Elipse can be conveniently swallowed like tablet or pill. This promising procedure-free anti-obesity treatment also has the ability to dissolve on its own without requiring further intervention.
"As a temporary intervention that does not require anatomic modification, Elipse is a less invasive and reversible path to weight loss. Elipse may enable patients to remain at a healthy weight through repeat use of the device without requiring anesthesia, incisions, or surgical risks," Dr. Ioannis Raftopoulos, one of the authors of the study, stated.
Elipse still needs years of testing to get the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Nevertheless, obesity experts are thrilled about the news of up and coming treatment options for obesity.
"It's also a new tool to help us deal with obesity, which is our biggest public health problem and we need all hands on deck — all different types of devices and innovations that are available to us," Dr. John Morton, chief of bariatric surgery at Stanford University and president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, told NBC.
FDA Warns Against Anti-Obesity Balloons Orbera And ReShape
Despite its approval of gastric balloon systems — ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System and the Orbera Intragastric Balloon System — in 2015, the FDA has recently released an official warning sent to healthcare providers about it.
The agency said it has received a series of complaints linking the two anti-obesity balloons to serious complications.
Two of the most significant issues raised were overinflating with air or fluid and the development of acute pancreatitis, which may be due to the digestive organs being inappropriately compressed inside. Both issues led to the premature removal of the device in patients.