It's no secret that obesity is a growing problem for Americans. Our kids are growing larger, our rates of diabetes and heart disease show no signs of retreating, and our military is worried that the next generation of warfighters will be too big and sluggish to get the job done. But Boston-based Gelesis has engineered a complex obesity solution that works by a simple mechanism: take a pill, become full, eat less.
The idea of shrinking stomach size to reduce the amount of processed foodstuffs a person can consume in one sitting isn't a new idea, but conventional methods of doing so – stomach stapling or gastric bypass surgery – carry with them a bevy of inherent risks (not to mention they're invasive). Gelesis has engineered a similar plan of attack called Attiva, but rather than shrinking the stomach, it aims to reduce gastrointestinal real estate from the inside.
Gelesis engineered a super-absorbent polymer – is it ironic that it's derived from an unspecified food source? – that can be reduced to small beads about the size of a grain of sugar. These tiny polymer beads swell up more than 100 times over when introduced to water, kind of like those little sponges you used to play with in the bath. So when you down a pill with a glass of water, the capsule dissolves in your stomach and the hydrogel beads begin to grow. In a few minutes you're feeling pretty full, and that second Double Down from KFC is decidedly less attractive.
Of course, now you have a belly full of hydrogel, and this is where the engineers at Gelesis had to be clever. The food is now mixed in with the gel, but you still need to digest that food (the object here is weight loss, not starvation). The hydrogel keeps food in the stomach longer, giving stomach acid more time to break down both the food and the hydrogel, which begins to release its water. Everything then moves to the small intestine where the gel can re-expand to some extent, slowing the absorption of fatty materials and sugars. Finally everything ends up in the lower bowels, and the rest is history.
The clever part of the engineering, of course, was creating a polymer that can stand up to changing pH levels so that it never fully breaks down; the company claims its product never touches the bloodstream, making it more of a medical device than a medication. How will the FDA treat it? Who knows, but it did just pass its first human trial without any problems beyond the occasional stomach ache. And let's be honest, that second Double Down probably would have given you a stomach ache anyhow.
I don't know what to make of this. What do you think would happen if you took too many of those beads? Can it be fixed?That's what the FDA will want to know before giving the thumbs up.
It's a nice idea, but it's not a perfect solution. It may curb the average obese or overweight person's appetite, but it probably would have little effect on chronic overeaters. Those who compulsively eat, even when not physically hungry, are probably not going to be deterred by feeling bloated or full.
If it truly can lead to the body absorbing less fat then it might have some effect, but it would have to be taken before every meal and every snack (that hot chocolate and two donuts you had between breakfast and lunch add up fast).
There was a diet pill taken off the shelves in the '80s because it was wreaking havoc with peoples digestive tracks. It was simple a piece of synthetic sponge compressed into a capsule.
This sounds pretty scary.
Even if its not perfect, it's still can help a lot of people... i hope it will be commercialized soon !
I sincerely believe that 'solutions' like this are just covering the problem and not actually going after the source of the problem. Its like putting a bucket under a leaking pipe, but never fixing the actual pipe. If people stopped eating so many processed foods and starting eating more fresh fruits and veggies, obesity would not be an issue. The problem lies in the calorie dense refined rubbish that make up the bulk of most grocery stores. You'd be hard pressed to ever find a person that became obese snacking on carrots and celery and binging on fruits and salads.
so instead of being fat and malnourished with heart issues from eating a double down. people will be skinny (or less fat) and malnourished with heart/gas issues from eating HALF a double down and taking these pills....
This really just allows people with bad eating habits to continue to have bad eating habits...just less often. I hope this isn't on the list of medications that insurance covers.
Similar pills were sold back in 80s. Really dangerous and not very effective solution. Filling have of your stomach with plastic crap, and the rest by fast food crap will not help at all. The best medicine against obesity is a correct diet.
Most likely from Rice starch.
Its a food starch not a plastic.
The food available today is much richer than our evolution has been able to account for. 2,000 years, ago it was a good thing that eating fatty and sugary food actually suppresses your satiation reflex. You never really knew when you were going to be able to eat that richly again, so it was best that you pack it in right there. This diet pill concept only takes into account satiation by stomach expansion. It does not account for the fact that fats and sweeteners suppress satiation. You can be sick-full at the end of dinner, couldn't manage another slice of turkey, but yet you can comfortably eat a hefty slice of cake. Generally speaking.
Have you ever met a person that got with a nutritionist and actually stuck with the plan? You'll often hear the phrases, "I've never eaten this much food, I'm loosing weight, I've never felt better, and I don't feel hungry between meals."
It doesn't matter if you are forced to pack in less. If you eat a crap diet, you are going stay in poor health.
...ya, but at least you'd look good. (kidding :-p)
I agree with the first comment - this could almost certainly be deadly if you took too much of it.
If anybody reading this has watched "Gorgeous Gorge" on 1000 ways to die, that is probably whats going to happen with people that are compulsive over eaters. A better medication is something that tricks the brain into thinking its full, like a depressant.
KH - It's not solid, it will be almost just like any other crap. But what happens with all this plastic after crapping? Does it break in environment or clog sewage treatment plants?
What ever happened to Bran Muffins?
You do not want to be putting polymer in your stomach.
It doesnt take a genius to realize that one goes in one end has to come out the other end. If it hasnt provided any nutrition in the meantime, youre still going to be hungry. There is no substitute for willpower and the willingness to pursue a healthy lifestyle.
Ok what happens when you eat too much regular food? You throw up. Your stomach is not going to rupture, and if its passed human trials there is probably little to no inherent risks. I'm sure that people were as worried when stomach staples and lap bands came out, but those seem to work well WITH a proper diet.
I think this sounds great, and I hope it gets on the market if it works. I've been getting fatter and fatter lately.
Got to tell you that there used to be some diet candy called 'Ayds' -- don't know if it's the stuff referred toby others.
Tried a few one time -- stomach felt full BUT I WAS STILL HUNGRY. My body knew that there was no nutrition in there.
If we are fattening up in the US and not elsewhere, we need to follow that trail.
I fill up on bread before every meal... ;)
I still think gastric bypass or going on the biggest loser show would be a better alternative.
uh... if the society doesn't change today...and this pill became over the counter. I believe we will have many anorexic people..
Read more carefully people. They don't magically swell once the coating is dissolved. It absorbs water, so if you took 100 pills, it can only swell based on how much water you drank.
I think this is a great idea! Although it won't cure a chronic overeater's bad habits, it doesn't matter, because the end result is the overeater will end up eating less! Problem solved! Moreover, s/he won't become malnourished because fat people's eating habits cause them to be over-nourished in the first place!
Oh, GOOD IDEA! Lets just avoid addressing the real issue. Yeah sure, that won't have any major consequences for humanity. Lets create something creepy to control people because they can't control themselves. Maybe we should be working on a medication that makes people feel like crap if they eat too much trans fat or saturated fat. Then eventually that person will be conditioned in to eating the right foods.
well also the reason that people are obese is because they don,t watch what they eat and they don,t exercise even if you eat three carrots two apples and a piece of celery each day and not move you will gain weight and starving your self with this pill is not healthy i say eat 2000 cal and exercise an hour a day all tho if some one found out how the human body burns fat and and make a pill to induce weight loss that might be cool. p.s did eating kosher can also be good for your health since foods that are not kosher pork sea crustaceans and most predators and scavengers have more toxins than kosher food also kosher food dose not need to be blessed by a rabbi.
There is already a stuff -- I forget its name -- that does something similar. One capsule absorbs about half a cup of water, and holds it in your stomach longer than the water alone would stay.
That means you might need to take about 8 of them with a quart of water, just before you eat, to have much effect. If you take them a half hour before dinner, the stuff is already gone. So you have to take them just before you eat, the gel mixes with your food, and stays there for hours until your stomach empties.
The difference here is that they're saying just one capsule. But you still have to drink a lot of water.
Heh The all coveted solution to everything, Too fat? take a pill, Feel down? take a pill, Stupid? Take a pill ,tsk tsk tsk
Remember toxic shock symdrome? Some bright person invented a tampon that finally worked: It expanded with fluid. So much so that it blocked the entry way too much and women died of toxic shock.
Better think twice before you swallow something like this.
Just stop overeating.
Maybe if we ever have something known as 'responsible parents' again in our society, children won't have their own little convenience store in the pantry.
So to sum up the negative sentiments about this pills is this....
"the problem is it allows people to still continue in irresponsible behavior, by allowing them to avoid the consequences of said behavior."
Kinda sounds like abortion. At least for 95% of the time it used.