To Help Obese Lose Weight, a Stomach Pacemaker?

Device tricks brain into thinking stomach is full
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2011 3:18 PM CST
"If you take away all the responsibilities from the patient, they will not change on their own," lead researcher Thomas Horbach says.   (AP Photo/Carolin Deutsch)

(Newser) – An appetite-curbing stomach pacemaker that helps obese people lose weight is on sale in Europe after passing clinical trials and its makers hope to offer in the US within a few years. The surgically implanted device sends out electrical pulses designed to trick the brain into believing the body is full after a relatively small amount of food has been consumed, AP reports. "It feels like a little pressure on my stomach or a tickle, but it's not a bad feeling," says one user who found the device worked after diets and exercise didn't. "It's been like a little guide to help me change my life."

Most people who used the device in trials lost around 20% of their weight and kept it off, although some experts question how effective the pacemaker will be long-term. "The problem with these devices is they assume people are rational and that they eat because they're hungry," one expert says. "A lot of obese patients eat because they're depressed, they can't sleep at night, or they have nobody to have sex with. So whatever you insert into their stomach, they can out-eat that device because it's other things that drive them to consume."

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