Swallowable Balloon Yields Weight Loss Dividends

Share Article

A clinical trial of the Obalon 6-Week Balloon System at Allegheny Health Network showed participants lost an average of 7 percent of their body weight

Dr. George Eid

"Millions of people are not heavy enough to qualify for bariatric surgery, but still need help."

Everyone is looking for that “magic bullet” for weight loss. Allegheny Health Network (AHN) was one of 15 sites nationally chosen last year to participate in a clinical trial of the Obalon 6-month Balloon System. Participants swallowed three balloons the size of a large pill, which physicians then inflated so that patients felt fuller, and also received diet and exercise counseling.

The results of the trial are in, and participants lost an average of 7 percent of their total body weight, with limited and mostly mild side effects. They also saw significant improvement in other health indicators such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The results of the trial were presented at the 2016 Digestive Diseases Week conference.

Principal Investigator Dr. George Eid, Assistant Chair of AHN's Bariatric and Metabolic Institute said "Obesity is reaching endemic proportions. Millions of people are not heavy enough to qualify for bariatric surgery but still need help."

The balloon is intended for people with a Body Mass Index of between 30 and 40. There is a large unmet need for treatment for patients in this group, Dr. Eid said.

Sherry Vukman of Wilkins Township, a Pittsburgh suburb, was one of those people. She lost 50 pounds while participating in the trial. The diet and exercise counseling she received has stuck with her even after the balloons were removed, she said.

"This was life-changing for me," she said. Even after the balloons were removed, she continued to lose weight by following the diet and exercise strategies she learned during the trial. Outdoor activities are much easier for her now at her lighter weight.

Patients treated with the Obalon balloons lost an average of 6.81 percent of their body weight. Participants in a control group, who swallowed a sugar pill, lost an average of 3.6 percent of their body weight. In addition, 64.3 percent of patient who received the Obalon balloon achieved weight loss of at least 5 percent of their body weight.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the device, which is already available to patients in Europe.

About the Allegheny Health Network:    
Allegheny Health Network (AHN.ORG), part of Highmark Health, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the Western Pennsylvania region. The Network is comprised of eight hospitals, including its flagship academic medical center Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg Hospital, Forbes Hospital, Jefferson Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital, Westfield Memorial Hospital and West Penn Hospital; an employed physician organization, a research institute, health + wellness pavilions, home and community-based health services and a group purchasing organization. The Network employs approximately 17,500 people, and has more than 2,100 physicians on its medical staff. The Network also serves as a clinical campus for Temple University School of Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Stephanie Waite