- Americans now have more options than ever to battle obesity, thanks to a string of recent FDA approvals, The Wall Street Journal reported.
- Unlike gastric bypass surgery, which permanently reduces the size of the stomach, many of these procedures are reversible.
- More than one-third (78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese, putting them at risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The recently-approved interventions could make more individuals eligible for obesity treatment. "Several are aimed at the estimated 60 million Americans who are only moderately obese, with a body-mass index of 30 to 40," Melinda Beck wrote for the WSJ.
Among the devices approved by the FDA is a tube that allows people to drain food from their stomach shortly after consuming it. Approved last month, the AspireAssist, is indicated for people over 22 years old with a body mass index of 35 to 55 who have tried and failed other weight-loss options.
The procedure involves implanting a stomach tube with a portal on the skin. This attaches to a device that removes food before it can be digested.
In clinical trials, AspireAssist reduced weight by 12% after one year. King of Prussia, PA-based Assist Bariatrics makes the device. The media gave a lot of digital ink to the device using all sorts of descripters such as "disturbing" and "medically sanctioned bulemia".
Other devices include ReShape Medical’s integrated dual balloon, which is inserted via the patient’s throat using an endoscope and then inflated in the stomach, reducing the amount of food it can hold.
Apollo Endoscopy also makes an intragastric balloon called Orbera, which is similar to ReShape. Both contain a blue dye, which shows up in urine if the balloon deflates, WSJ noted.
Another minimally invasive option is vBloc therapy, developed by EnteroMedics, which uses electrical leads attached to the vagus nerve to help people pace their eating.
Obesity costs the U.S. healthcare system about $147 billion annually in 2008 dollars, according to the CDC. On an individual level, medical costs for obese people outpace those for those with normal weight by about $1,429.
The new techniques can cost anywhere between $6,000 and $25,000, Beck reported.