Electronic Weight Loss Implant Approved By USDA

There are pills and surgeries that are all vying for consumers' attentions as the weight loss solution, and one more is about to become available to Americans looking for a way out from their obesity.

Weight loss is a big market. There are pills and surgeries that are all vying for consumers' attentions as the weight loss solution, and one more is about to become available to Americans looking for a way out from their obesity.


Clare Wilson from New Scientist wrote an article about the Maestro Rechargeable System that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The device will be available to those who have a body mass index (BMI) over 35 points or have a weight-related condition.

The device works by blocking the signals from the vagus nerve, which is the line of communication between the brain and several major organs. However, surgeons would attach electrodes only to the part of the nerve that talks to the stomach.

After undergoing a year-long study, which took 239 participants with BMIs ranging from 35 to 45 and one or more obesity-related condition, it led participants to lose, on average, 9 percent of their body weight. However, in a placebo trial participants lost an average of 6 percent of their body weight--a curious note. Of course, the purpose of the study was to determine if the treatment was effective as well as safe.

In their report the researchers wrote:

“The treatment was well tolerated, having met the primary safety objective.”

“The adverse events more frequent in the vagal nerve block group were heartburn or dyspepsia and abdominal pain attributed to therapy; all were reported as mild or moderate in severity.”

Nick Finer of University College Hospital in London, spoke to New Scientist, pointing out that gastric bypass surgery would be a better route than this device, citing that it leads to greater loss and it's safe. But surgeon Scott Shikora, speaking on behalf of the device's manufacturer, EnteroMedics, told New Scientist that there's hesitation among patients to have such invasive surgery: 

"A lot of patients don't want the operations we are currently performing because they view them as being too risky or too radical.”

The company has yet to release it long-term study, which was conducted on fewer patients. But Shikora said the study suggests that people's weight loss reached its pique after a year of use and participants maintained that weight for at least five years. However, there's still this placebo effect to consider. Perhaps it's not the device that's the major cause of the weight loss, but the thought that there's a support system in place. What do you think?

Read more at New Scientist

Photo Credit: Vic/Flickr

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