Friday, August 31, 2012

The Gastric Balloon for Weight Loss

In the past, we have written about endoluminal approaches to weight loss surgery. These approaches are being studied because it is hoped that endoluminal surgery can eventually result in weight loss approximating the weight loss that conventional forms of bariatric surgery provide while reducing the complications associated with bariatric surgery.  In endoluminal surgery the "operations [are] performed within the lumen of the gastrointestinal tract through an endoscope." In many of the endoluminal bariatric surgeries, some device is inserted in the mouth down into the GI tract.

One of the devices is the gastric balloon. The balloon is first inserted into the stomach through the mouth. The balloon is then filled with a liquid or air.  Once the balloon is filled, a person’s stomach feels full with less food.

One company that has done work on the gastric balloon is ReShape Medical, based in  San Clemente, California. Another company making the gastric balloon is BioEnterics, based in Irvine, California. This company manufactures the Intragastric Balloon or BIB system.

While the BIB system has been viewed as an effective endoluminal method for losing weight, studies indicate that the BIB system is only useful for temporary, short term weight loss. However, a recent report suggests that the BIB is "effective for significant weight loss and maintenance for a long period thereafter, under the absolute prerequisite of patient compliance and behavior change from the very early stages of treatment."
In general, endoluminal bariatric methods hold great promise for bariatric surgery. Endoluminal surgery is less invasive, likely reducing the complications associated with the surgery. If endoluminal bariatric surgery, such as the BIB system, eventually prove effective, this will be good for the weight loss industry.

Further, endoluminal surgery would probably be less costly, which would entice more persons who need the surgery to have the surgery. This increased number of persons getting bariatric surgery would be good for both medical and surgical weight loss providers.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Using Simulation in the Obesity Fight

As we all know, obesity is on the rise in many municipalities. It’s been estimated that half of New York City’s residents are overweight or obese. To combat that city's obesity, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has proposed a limit of 16 ounces on the size of soft drink containers when the soft drinks are sold at food service establishments.  While some critics disagree with the mayor's proposal, the mayor believes that a ban on soft drink container size will help in the fight against the city’s obesity.

Other methods that attempt to control the consumption of soft drinks are being used or proposed in other areas of the country. These methods include putting constraints on school children’s access to soft drinks and placing taxes on soft drinks. To determine what methods may successfully fight obesity, simulation tools are sometimes utilized.

One report described researchers' “use [of] simulation modeling to show how changes in three categories of SSB [sugar-sweetened beverages] policies-school nutrition, school-based education, and taxes-impact SSB and other food consumption. The model shows that policies directed at SSBs, particularly tax hikes, could lead to substantial reductions in the number of calories consumed by youth.” Indeed putting taxes on soft drinks is considered by the IOM (Institute of Medicine) to be among the best approaches to curbing obesity.

We believe that controls such as taxes could be workable weapons in the fight against obesity. And if steps are taken to provide crucial calorie-related data in the places people eat, the information would arm people with the ammunition to take responsibility for maintaining a healthy weight. Wide spread availability of this type of food-related information would also allow weight loss centers to more effectively work with their clients to set healthy, reachable weight goals.

Perhaps, bariatric surgeons and physicians who specialize in non surgical medical weight loss treatment (bariatricians for example) will partner, more and more, with cardiologists, and other health care specialists. These relationships will benefit the patient, the weight loss expert, and other health care providers.

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