Just when I thought there might not be any more ways to medically try and help obese people with surgeries . . . a new one has been approved in Britian and is awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in the United States – yes, it’s the stomach pacemaker!
It’s called “Abiliti” by its London-based maker, IntraPace. According to the company, the stomach pacemaker is implanted in the stomach during a one-hour laparoscopic procedure via small insertions in the abdominal wall and can be effective for controlling appetite and losing weight.
Once in place, the stomach pacemaker device uses its food-detection sensor to sense whenever a patient eats or drinks. This prompts it to emit low energy electrical pulses to nerves that trigger a feeling of rapid fullness. According to IntraPace, users can feel “a sensation” from the tiny impulses it delivers. An activity sensor in the Abiliti also tracks the food intake and physical exertion levels, sending that information automatically to a computer so patients and doctors can easily monitor and adjust eating and exercise habits.
Here’s the interesting part. Only one trial has been completed of 65 people. These participants had a pre-implant body mass index between 35 and 55 (30 is the statistical threshold for obesity). With Abiliti they lowered their daily food intake by an average of 45%, the researchers said, and they lost an average of 22% of their weight within a year. One participant noted, “Of course, [my weight loss] is also due to a change of eating and living habits,” while pointing out that since receiving the stomach pacemaker device implantation she coupled “a strong desire and will to lose weight” with an avoidance of fast foods and a diet tilted towards salads and whole grains.
I have to question, why wasn’t that “strong desire”, removal of processed foods, and a whole foods diet tried to begin with? Was it the pacemaker or the fact that she changed her “eating and living habits”? Do we really need to undergo surgery to start considering a lifestyle change?
But, it gets better. Abiliti now costs between 20,000£ and 23,000£, which includes the device plus implantation in the stomach. This is the British cost, where it’s been approved. British pounds converted to US dollars that between $32,000 and $37,000.
Are people really willing to pay up to $37,000 for a surgery that provides a tingle in the stomach that may make you feel fuller and an automatic food and exercise log? I guess time will tell. In the meantime, if any one’s thinking this seems like a great idea, send me an email . . . I’ve got a whole foods diet and supplement plan with a paper log that could save you a lot of money.