The World Health Organization (WHO) found in 2008 that more than 1.4 billion adults age 20 and older were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese. Furthermore, 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
Technology advancements hope to aid the obesity fight with a new stomach implant that can trick the brain into thinking the stomach is full. The Abiliti, or ‘Gastric Pacemaker’, made by IntraPace is a surgical implant that detects when you have eaten food and transmits signals to the brain to create the feeling of fullness.
According to the Abiliti website, “The abiliti system consists of a stimulator (a small battery-powered device similar to a cardiac pacemaker) and a lead containing a stimulation electrode and food sensor. The procedure is done through laparoscopic surgery, a minimally invasive technique in which a surgeon uses a camera called a laparoscope, small incisions, and specialized instruments. The camera allows the surgeon to view the inside of your abdominal cavity in order to insert the lead containing the sensor and the stimulation electrode into your stomach. After the stimulator is implanted, the laparoscopic incisions are closed. The procedure involves no intestinal rerouting or stapling of the stomach. As a result, the surgery is very safe; and because the anatomy of the digestive tract is unchanged, the procedure is easily reversible.”
Gastric bypass surgery has been the approach to date; however, gastric bypass has more risks since the stomach is surgically made smaller. Gastric bypass also requires patients to adjust to healthy eating habits to maintain the weight loss. If lifestyle changes do not take place, over time patients can regain the weight.
Abiliti may help train obese people to eat normal-sized portions and feel full without the need of stomach shaping surgery. According to the United Kingdom edition of huffingtonpost.com, “The device is already proving a success as during trials in Europe, people fitted with the gastric pacemaker ate 45% less.”
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