The weight loss industry made $20 billion in 2012 in the U.S. alone, so it should come as no surprise that Americans are willing to go to great lengths and spend major bucks to get slim — even if that means putting a balloon in their stomachs to lose weight. The Obalon weight loss system, which does just that, has been getting attention this week as the latest in a glut of absurd and scary weight loss treatments — other members of this club include plastic tongue patch that is sewn onto your tongue in order to make eating painful so that patients have to stick to a liquid diet, or having a high protein formula delivered via a tube inserted through your nose for 10 days in lieu of eating.
With the Obalon system, users take a pill that is actually a deflated balloon attached to a long, thin tube (which sounds incredibly uncomfortable if you ask me). After a doctor uses the tube to inflate the balloon, the tube is then detached and pulled out of your throat. The balloon is meant to remain in your system for three months, and is then deflated and pulled out through the mouth.
The point of this balloon is to make patients feel full faster, learn about portion sizes, change their mindset, and jumpstart a weight loss program by losing up to twenty pounds. However, some are dubious that this system will promote sustainable weight loss after the balloon is removed, as the stomach is back to its regular size or perhaps even bigger. So don’t go rushing to your neighborhood pharmacy just yet; the Obalon system will cost you around $3,300 and has only been approved for investigational use in the US. Until then can try to slim by going out into the snow — I hear that’s a good way to lose some pounds.