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"Stomach balloon may offer key to weight loss"


Source: CTV.CA

Published: 18 Dec 2021

Category: Other

Rating: (2½ stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

A team of Canadian doctors is experimenting with a non-surgical method of weight loss that they say will help make the stomach take in less food.

The method doesn't involve physically making the stomach smaller, like with gastric bypass surgery. Rather, it's a way of filling the stomach with a balloon. The Canadian team is the first in North America to test out and offer the technique.

Michael Salonin is helping to test out the technique. He needs to lose almost 100 pounds so that he can regain his health. He's worried about what the excess weight will do to him and says he wants to see his children grow up.

He's tried losing weight in the past, but has never had success...

The original article can be found at:

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 5 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of harms of treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

This is a story announcing a new Canadian study examining the use of the gastric balloon as a method of weight loss. While the story is careful in its caveats, noting that this technique is not intended for those interested in cosmetic weight loss, it scores a few misses particularly in referencing previous studies in this area.

The article notes, for example that "tests in Europe have shown few side effects." This information is not particularly helpful as it fails to provide any details from those tests such as how frequently benefits and harms occur in patients under study or how long the effects of the balloon treatment may last.

Even a brief search reveals a relatively large body of research in Europe on this technique. A quick look at the published medical literature available free at Pub Med ( using the search term "Gastric balloon" and related articles netted 130 citations stretching back to 1987.

While the technique may have been refined recently the rate of adverse effects (particularly nausea and vomiting) don't seem trivial. (affecting 76% of patients in one study and 90% in another) The conclusion of one study in 69 patients pointed out that the gastric balloon "as a means of weight reduction in the obese patient led to a 50.8% loss of excess weight after 6 months" yet that "severe morbidity" (particularly esophagitis, gastric erosion, acute peritonitis) can occur.

It was helpful to obtain the critique of this technique from a physician not related to the study, particularly cautionary comments about the potential for severe complications of this technique and the importance of changing lifestyle habits and dieting.

Even though this is a report of a new study in Canada, the cost of the treatment is not reported nor is it clear that the procedure is even available to those outside the study.

public forum

(17 Jul 2022) J R Avanti writes,

"I have reviewed information on gastric balloning. I am a Disabled Veteran
and I am willing to become a patient or subject for any studies on gastric balloning!
Please contact me as soon as you can to do the base study so I can be included
in these procedures or studies. It appears finally a terrific alternative to positive
weight lost is at hand without the complications of surgery.

Many Thanks,

J R Avanti
Height 5' 2"
Weight 265 lbs"

(29 Dec 2021) Colin Rose writes,

"Why should mechanical treatments be evaluated any differently from drug treatments? Drugs have to pass rigorous trials, usually double blind to be llcensed. The same should apply to "bariatric" surgery of all varieties.

The reported trial is not a double blind or sham controlled trial and therefore has no scientfic validity. There is no evidence that any kind of "bariatric" surgery has any more than a placebo effect. Patients who are told they cannot eat more don't, at least for a while. Then they discover they can eat more and regain the weight.

Physiologically, most "bariatric" surgery makes no sense. The smallest part of the GI tract is the esophagus. It is impossible to make the stomach smaller than the diameter of the esophagus or solid food will collect in the esophagus. Only those variaties of "bariatric" surgery that bypass part of the GI tract and cause malabsorption can conceivably result in negative energy balance but again it is always possble just to eat more and negate this effect."

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