The US is currently facing an obesity epidemic, with 90% of men and 80% of women in America categorized as overweight. As a result, individuals feeling hopeless about achieving fitness often turn to potentially dangerous operations and diet practices to aid in burning fat. One such method recently led to the deaths of seven people, sparking controversy over weight loss techniques and so-called fad diets.
Last Thursday, the FDA issued an alert to medical professionals about possible complications surrounding liquid-filled intragastric balloon systems, a common and minimally invasive procedure used to decrease hunger urges in the clinically obese. The alert included a notification about five casualties relating to the system since 2016:
All five reports indicate that patient deaths occurred within a month or less of balloon placement. In three reports, death occurred as soon as one to three days after balloon placement. At this time, we do not know the root cause or incidence rate of patient death, nor have we been able to definitively attribute the deaths to the devices or the insertion procedures for these devices.
The treatment also seems to be directly responsible for gastric and esophageal perforations leading to the passing of two additional patients. According to the FDA, the technique entails placing a deflated device into the stomach via the mouth. The device is then filled with a sterile saline solution to occupy space in the stomach as a manner of temporary appetite control before its removal six months later. Although rare cases of mortality have transpired, as explained by Apollo Endosurgery, one of the makers of gastric balloons, awareness of the possible dangers are necessary to prevent further harm.
Gastric balloons are indeed helpful for numerous individuals, but obesity is most often related to a lack of proper nutrition and physical activity. As reported in a previous article by Liberty Nation, approximately 75% of food purchases in the U.S. include high-calorie foods, such as cookies and sodas. Moreover, only 20% of adults meet the recommended daily exercise requirements set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These numbers have contributed to high instances of serious maladies, as body fat has a causal relationship to cancer and steatohepatitis, which is expected to overtake hepatitis C as the leading trigger of liver transplants in the U.S. by 2020, according to LN.
Through improved nutrition and physical activity routines, many Americans can successfully achieve their weight-loss goals. However, some instead follow fad diets, including detoxes, and other practices which have gained attention in recent years. The Mayo Clinic explains that such methods most often merely lead to failure in achieving lasting results, and to possible harmful outcomes such as dehydration and vitamin deficiencies. The popularity of unproven regimens has ultimately hampered public knowledge on healthy living standards, causing many to continue with harmful eating habits, and to feel hopeless about achieving a healthy level of fitness.
To combat the obesity epidemic and utilization of unscientific measures, Americans must employ superior lifestyles choices. Instead of resorting to operations and fad diets, most Americans would likely find greater awareness on proper meal plans and exercise routines and the prospective consequences of being overweight advantageous. Doing so will allow many to avoid last-resort procedures which could potentially end in death.