Warning On Gastric Band Weight-Loss Claims

December 2011, Warren Matthews

Summary

One of the latest ways to promote weight loss is the application of a gastric band.  These devices are implanted around the upper part of the stomach to create a ‘pouch’ which effectively reduces the amount that you can eat at one time.

One of the latest ways to promote weight loss is the application of a gastric band.  These devices are implanted around the upper part of the stomach to create a ‘pouch’ which effectively reduces the amount that you can eat at one time.

A couple of these devices have been approved by the US FDA for patients whom meet certain criteria.  However, the FDA has issued warning letters to a number of organizations promoting these devices as they claim that they are not advising patients of the risks…of which there are many, such as…

•    nausea and vomiting
•    difficulty swallowing
•    gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
•    upset stomach or pain
•    stretching of the stomach pouch
•    stretching of the esophagus
•    moving of the gastric band, requiring another surgery to reposition it

•    erosion of the band through the stomach wall and into the stomach, requiring another surgery

If you are overweight, please don’t be tempted by this procedure.  Even if you don’t suffer any of the side effects…which is unlikely, it is certainly not the way to promote good health.

Losing weight is really not that difficult if you apply the age old principle of calories in, versus calories burnt.

Earlier this year I had a situation in which my weight had crept up a bit (over the last couple of years) and I decided that I needed to lose 7kgs.  As most of us have experienced at various times, weight can be put on by ‘stealth’ if you don’t keep an eye on it, unless you are one of these people who can eat what and how much you like and nothing changes.

Anyway, it is simple to lose weight if you work on one simple premise.  3,500 calories is equivalent to half a kg or a bit more than a pound.  So, if you want to lose 7kgs as I did that meant I had to make an ‘adjustment’ of 24,500 calories.   The question is over what period of time is that ‘adjustment’ to take place.  I elected to do it at the rate of half a kg a week or 3,500 calories a week, or 500 calories a day.

So, it then becomes a simple mathematical exercise.  Either reduce food intake by 500 calories a day, or increase the amount of exercise by that amount.  I elected to do a bit of both.  Around an average of 150 calories a day from exercise and 350 calories in food!

By not aiming to adjust my habits by more than 500 calories a day I was able to achieve that objective and did indeed average a weight loss of half a kg a week and did it painlessly. All I had to do was be aware of how many calories in what I was eating and drinking.  For example, if I was out for a meal with company and having a beer, I would limit it to one instead of two because I know that one beer is the equivalent of having to do about 20 minutes on the treadmill. (About 120 calories) So, I would think…’now if I have this beer am I prepared to do an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill?’  Invariably the answer was no.  The same thing applied to my food.  If I was having a delicious meal and where I would previously go back for another helping I would ask myself the same question.

The bottom line…I never went hungry, I have got back to the weight that I wanted so I am not lugging around the extra 7kgs and I have never felt so good.  Actually I have lost more than 7kgs of fat because I have put on more muscle.

What I am trying to say here is that you can lose weight painlessly and without getting hungry and there is no need to put your health at risk.  It takes a relatively long time for the weight to build up and it takes some time to get rid of it.  Slow weight loss is much better than fast weight loss. It also gives your skin a chance to take up the ‘slack’.

Don’t be tempted by the apparently easy and fast solutions.  If you would like to read a bit more about the gastric band you can go to the FDA’s website by clicking here.

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