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Expert backs stomach balloon to fight obesity; TESTS SHOW SWALLOWABLE DEVICE WORKS TO HELP PATIENTS LOSE BODY WEIGHT.

Byline: BILL GLEESON ECHO Reporter bill.gleeson@liverpool.com @BillGleeson1

A LEADING obesity expert, from Liverpool, has given his backing to a new swallowable balloon-filled pill that could prevent the need for radical stomach surgery and gastric bands in overweight patients.

Test results have shown that the new device helped patients lose an average of 2st 6lb each over 16 weeks.

The Elipse Balloon is contained inside a capsule which is swallowed with a drink of water. The capsule is attached to a hollow plastic tube. Once a doctor has checked the balloon is correctly in place, he fills it up via the tube with almost a pint of water. The tube is then detached and removed. After 16 weeks, a valve disintegrates and the device is excreted. In contrast, gastric surgery requires sedation or anaesthesia, is hard to reverse and comes with serious risks attached.

Speaking at an international medical conference in Portugal, where the test results were unveiled, Professor Jason Halford, treasurer of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, from the University of Liverpool, said the device helped people manage their appetite and modify their food intake.

He said: "In that context, it could be a solution for people who don't want to go for full bariatric (weightloss) surgery.

"With bariatric surgery, there are potential complications, it's a very permanent change in your life and it's not easily reversible.

"People are looking for alternatives."

He said the balloon could also provide an alternative to antiobesity drugs and may be useful for people who have found that drugs do not work.

He said "potentially millions could benefit" on the NHS, though clinical commissioning groups, which control large chunks of NHS funds, would need to be willing to pay for them.

The balloon, which costs around PS3,400, is available in several countries around the world and privately in the UK. The NHS is investigating similar methods.

The balloon was given to 42 obese people, typically aged 46, with a body mass index (BMI) of 39 and weighing just over 17st on average. After 16 weeks, people lost more than 14% of their total body weight (around a third of their excess weight).

Doctors warn patients would still have to make major adjustments to their diet and others said that some patients may regain weight once the balloon has been excreted.

It is estimated that obesity costs the NHS PS16bn a year.

CAPTION(S):

Obesity is a growing problem for the NHS

The balloon is swallowed when deflated, then inflated once it is in the stomach

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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 29, 2017
Words:428
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