OVERWEIGHT people have been dreaming for years about a magic tablet that would just melt their fat away with little or no effort.
This week it looks as though we are a step closer with the invention of a pill that contains a gastric balloon in order to get rid of excess fat.
In tests, this device has helped obese people lose two stones in four months which is really impressive and potentiality life saving.
It’s also being hailed as a money-saving miracle, because at around £3000, it’s half the price of a normal gastric band operation, and it’s far simpler.
The person wanting to lose weight just swallows the pill with a glass of water and then the balloon starts to swell up in their stomach.
It makes them feel full so they don’t eat as much as normal, and that results in an inevitable weight loss.
After about four months, the balloon is designed to deflate and is simply passed out of the body in the natural way.
The results have not only been encouraging, it appears to be completely safe.
And yet I have my doubts.
First of all, most grossly overweight people have a real mental problem with food and simply getting them to swallow a pill doesn’t address any of those issues.
Chances are that when that balloon dissolves away, they will go back to their old habits and the weight will pile back on again.
I’m also worried that this could easily be abused by people who are only slightly overweight and want a quick fix.
They might think that taking this pill will solve all their problems, but this could be very dangerous. Again when the balloon disappears and normal eating habits resume, then the weight will be regained.
There’s also those poor souls who have eating disorders, and I have a horrible feeling that if this device becomes easily available then anorexics might somehow be able to buy one so they could feel full but starve themselves to dangerous levels.
So it will have to be properly policed and strictly issued to those in genuine need.
I think it could be a wonderful thing to help people who are morbidly obese and in danger of developing illnesses like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but again I would stress that they will still have a dysfunctional relationship with food and that needs proper counselling.
For others who just have a stone or two to lose, this would never be a good idea, and I think there’s a sense of satisfaction about getting healthy by eating properly and doing some exercise that you would never get from just swallowing a pill.
Right now the device is only available privately and I assume it will continue to be given out wisely, and not just issued to those who can afford to pay for it
The NHS, however, are looking into making it available because it is quick, easy and relatively cheap.
It’s one weapon in the fight against obesity, but keeping weight off will still be tough.
I know the demand will be overwhelming, but I’m not sure it’s the best way road to long-term weight loss and good health.