The Gastric Balloon Pill: Can a one-off pill really lead to a two-stone weight loss?

The gastric band in a pill. Can a one-off pill really help you lose two stone? [Photo: Public Domain Photos via Pexels]
The gastric band in a pill. Can a one-off pill really help you lose two stone? [Photo: Public Domain Photos via Pexels]

A one-off pill containing a gastric balloon could help people to lose more than two stone, a study has suggested.

The research, unveiled at the world’s largest obesity conference, showed the Elipse pill, dubbed ‘gastric band in a tablet’, could be an effective, less risky alternative to weight loss surgery.

Scientists at the University of Rome studied 42 adults and found that participants who took the pill lost an average of two stone and six pounds after four months after. They also saw significant improvements in their health including blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar control.

Dr Roberta Ienca, from the University of Rome, said: “Because the Elipse Balloon does not require endoscopy, surgery or anaesthesia, this may make it suitable for a larger population of obese patients not responding to diet and lifestyle treatment.”

And with more than one in four Brits currently diagnosed as obese, experts believe the NHS should now considering funding the pills as a cheaper and less risky alternative to weightloss surgery, such as gastric bands and stomach stapling.

Professor Jason Halford, from the University of Liverpool, said: “Potentially millions could benefit. It is cost-effective. If the studies are there, it should be considered on the NHS.”

While Dr Simon Cork, of Imperial College London, added: “A device which doesn’t require surgery is a positive step forward.”

So how does it work?

Patients swallow the pill with a glass of water, and once it hits the stomach, the balloon is filled with a pint of water through a tube, which therefore makes people feel fuller and restricts the amount of calories they then eat. The tube then detaches from the balloon and it pops after four months and passes out painlessly through the body. Clever.

The pill has been dubbed a gastric band in a pill [Photo: via Pexels]
The pill has been dubbed a gastric band in a pill [Photo: via Pexels]

Can I just pop to the pharmacist and get one?

Er, no. The pill needs to be taken under the supervision of a medic, nutritionist or dietician.

Is it expensive?

At the moment Elipse is only available privately, but at £2,200 to £3,400, gastric balloons are about half the price of surgery. Similar treatments are also currently being investigated by the NHS.

Will the weight stay off?

Elipse creators say the balloon is designed to be used alongside a healthier fitness and eating regime. And for lasting weightloss, you’d need to continue to practice a healthier lifestyle after the balloons are removed.

Dr Simon Core, research fellow at the Department of Investigative Medicine at Imperial College London told Cosmopolitan that though the study was interesting he doesn’t think gastric balloons will be a long term weightloss solution.

“Gastric balloons are useful for losing weight, but only in the short term,” he said. “This balloon is only inflated for 16 weeks, after which it is removed from the body. Sadly, the weight lost through this balloon will undoubtedly be put back on soon after the balloon is removed. Nevertheless, gastric balloons are still useful for some patients, and the introduction of a device which doesn’t require surgery to implant is a positive step forward.”

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