A pioneering obesity treatment that involves injecting tiny beats into the stomach could soon offer hope to millions.
Called “bariatric embolization”, the injection promises to help some people to lose and keep weight off for at least a year.
A new study found that those who had the treatment lost on average about 11 per cent of their excess weight after 12 months.
The procedure involved threading a cannula through an artery in the wrist or going to the stomach.
Scientists then injected microscopic beads through the tube to partially block the artery that supplies blood to the stomach.
Feel fuller for longer
That was thought to suppress the production of hunger-stimulating hormones – reducing overall appetite.
As it’s less invasive than bariatric surgery, bariatric embolization takes less time to recover from.
The study involved 20 severely obese patients who had a BMI of 45 and who weighed an average of 139kg.
During the first month after the procedure, the participants lost, on average, about 8 per cent of their excess weight and reported feeling less hungry.
After the first month, their reports of hunger increased but were still less than they were before the procedure.
After a year, they’d lost around 11.5 per cent of their excess weight.
Alternative to weight-loss operations
Although there may have been an element of placebo effect at play (most people are going to lose a little weight if they’re placed on a weight loss scheme), that’s not to poo-poo the findings.
It is worth saying, however, that the study was a really small one involving only 20 participants so a lot more research is needed before we come to any finite conclusion.
But Dr Clifford Weiss, associate professor of radiology at John Hopkins University still called the findings “a great step forward”.
The scientists stressed that the procedure wasn’t designed to replace bariatric surgery, which is known to help people lose up to 30 per cent of their excess weight.
Instead, they say it could supplement diet and lifestyle changes to help treat obesity.
And not everyone who has a tonne of weight to lose wants to undergo extreme surgery, so this could potentially off a solution.
In the meantime, eating a balanced diet, creating a small calorie deficit and exercising regularly are the way to go.