HealthDay News — A new ingestible and inflatable balloon system, Obalon, shows promise as a noninvasive way to curb appetite and assist weight loss efforts, according to research presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week, held in San Diego.

For the trial, 366 obese patients were divided into 2 groups. Half swallowed 3 Obalon balloons; the other half swallowed 3 placebo capsules. “Once it’s reached the stomach, we inflate the balloon with a nitrogen mixed gas,” study author Shelby Sullivan, MD, director of bariatric endoscopy at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, told HealthDay. Patients ingest 3 capsules in all: the second at 3 weeks, and a third at either week 9 or 12. When expanded, each balloon holds 750 cubic centimeters of gas. At 6 months, all balloons are removed through an outpatient endoscopic procedure.

Over 6 months, the placebo group lost 3.6% of their weight, on average, compared with 6.8% among the Obalon patients. And nearly two-thirds of the Obalon group lost at least 5% of their weight, compared to just a third of the placebo group.

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Obalon is not yet approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Ongoing studies to assess its benefits have been funded by the system’s manufacturer, Obalon Therapeutics. A second balloon system, known as Elipse, is also being tested in ongoing trials.

Sullivan disclosed receiving funding from Obalon Therapeutics.

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  1. Swallowable, Gas-Filled Balloons Aid Fight against Obseity [press release]. Published May 24, 2016. Abstract 812d presented at: Digestive Disease Week 2016; May 22-24, 2016; San Diego, California.