Excess weight and obesity increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. However, the risk can be significantly reduced with as little as 5% weight loss and improve quality of life(1).
There are hundreds of fad-diets and even more pharmacotherapy products, but they fail to directly tackle the problem, usually resulting in weight regain. However, a suitable weight loss alternative to end yo-yoing and enjoy significant weight loss are intragastric balloons (IGB), which have been used since the 1990s, and have been improved over the decades to evolve into wide use in medical clinics and commercial health settings(2).
Study design: examining the effect of intra gastric balloons
A study by Fuller, N.R. et al., assessed the effect of IGBs on weight loss and health outcomes for the management and treatment of obesity. The study was for 12 months and had a total of 66 participants between the ages of 18 to 60 years old with an average BMI of 36 kg/m2. All participants had been obese for over 7 years and had failed supervised weight loss programs, including traditional diet and exercise.
The study evenly and randomly divided the participants into one of two groups:
- The IGB Group: participants followed a behavioural modification program for 12 months and received an inserted IGB for the first 6 months (the IGB no longer in-situ from month 7 onwards). As per standard protocol following the insertion of the IGB, participants were advised to be inactive for the first 3 days and to adhere to a ‘transitional diet’ for the first 20 days to reduce any stomach discomfort, before beginning the behavioural modification program. (1)
- The Control Group: participants received only the behavioural modification program for a healthy diet and exercise regime.
Both, the IGB Group and the Control Group, received the same behavioural modification program, which included a pedometer with the goal to walk at least 10,000 steps each day, and worked closely with a dietitian for healthy dietary advice and a tailored exercise program.
What did the results show?
Fuller, N.R., et al., assessed the results of participants’ weight loss, eating behaviours and quality of life over the 12 months. The key findings from the study were:
- The IGB Group had significant weight loss by month 6
The IGB Group had an average weight loss of 14.4 kg (14.2%); in comparison, the Control Group had significantly less weight loss with an average of 5.1 kg (4.8%).
- The IGB Group were satisfied or very satisfied
Up to 73% of the participants who received an IGB were satisfied or very satisfied with the IGB at month 6, with 86% saying they would recommend IGBs to others.
- A significant improvement in quality of life by month 6
Furthermore, the IGB Group continued to have an improved quality of life for the 6 months following the removal of the IGB.
- The IGB Group showed significant improvement of three assessed categories of eating behaviour: cognitive restraint, emotional eating, and uncontrolled eating.
The IGB Group demonstrated a statistical improvement at months 3 and 6 (IGB in-situ) and remained so 3 months after the IGB was removed; and, emotional eating remained suppressed up to month 12.
What can we take away from this?
Intragastric balloons are a safe and effective weight loss alternative for overweight and obese individuals. They help facilitate weight loss by decreasing the amount of empty space in stomach, thus increasing satiety resulting in reduced caloric intake at mealtimes prompting weight loss. In as little as 6 months, an IGB can help overweight and obese individuals lose a significant amount of weight, which reduces the risk of developing comorbidities, improves the quality of life, and creates healthier eating behaviours (1).
- Fuller, Nicholas R., et al. “An Intragastric Balloon in the Treatment Of Obese Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Controlled Study.” Obesity Biology and Integrated Physiology, vol. 21, no. 8, Aug. 2013, pp. 1561–1570. Google Scholar, doi:10.1002/oby.20414.
- Lorenzo, M, et al. “Chapter 16 – Intragastric Balloon for the Treatment of Morbid Obesity.” Metabolism and Pathophysiology of Bariatric Surgery: Nutrition, Procedures, Outcomes and Adverse Effects , Academic Press, 2016, pp. 139–146. Elsevier, doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-804011-9.00013-3.