Shedding those extra kilos may become as easy as popping a pill. Researchers have developed a new gastric balloon that can be swallowed, rather than surgically inserted, effectively inducing weight loss.
"It may be a safe and effective way to induce substantial weight loss as well as curb obesity," say researchers.
Once the pill is swallowed, the gastric balloon swells up in the stomach with the (50 ml) water used to pop the pill. Thus inducing a feeling of satiety, restricting the quantum of calories a person can consume.
It also reduces risk and discomfort caused by the common intragastric balloons (IGBs) -- weight loss devices that require endoscopy and sedation.
"Because the balloon does not require endoscopy, surgery or anaesthesia, this may make it suitable for a larger population of obese patients not responding to diet/lifestyle treatment," said Roberta Ienca from Sapienza University of Rome, Italy.
For the study, presented at European Congress on Obesity (ECO) in Porto, Portugal, the team examined 42 (29 men and 13 women) obese individuals (BMI 30-45 kg/m2) who had failed to lose weight by diet alone and who had refused other IGB treatment, because of the need of an endoscopy and/or anaesthesia, and were offered the balloon.
The balloons remained in the stomach for 16 weeks, during which patients were put on a very low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diet.
At the end of 16 weeks, an internal release valve automatically drains out the balloon from the body.
The results showed that the participants shed more than 15 kg, on an average, which amounted to 31 per cent of excess weight. No serious side effects were reported.
Significant reductions were also observed in co-morbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and metabolic syndrome, the researchers said.
"The balloon appears to be a safe and effective weight loss method. Furthermore, the introduction of a very low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diet improves weight loss," Ienca added.