Daily Archives: October 24, 2011

Kids to get Balloons on NHS: But real ones banned by EU

Children and balloons, as we all know they love them. Though that’s all set to change with the depressing news in today’s Daily Mail. Children as young as eleven are to be given Intragastric Balloon (Gastric Balloon) surgery in order to address the associated health risks in some severely obese children. This is in the same week that  new EU laws banning children from blowing up real balloons take effect.


In a first (and please let it be the last) of it’s kind trial, up 15 children will be offered the procedure which involves inserting a deflated balloon via the mouth whilst under general anaesthetic, a Catheter is then fitted to inflate the device once it is located.

A very distressing state of affairs indeed, so what about the health risks. Well as this is a trial it will be some time before the data on long term affects is released. Side effects include nausea and vomiting and if the balloon is dislodged and passes into the gut, it can cause an obstruction which could be fatal. In rare cases, bleeding or perforation could occur during insertion. Although the procedure is not approved by the US Food & Drug Administration, it has been given the green light in several European countries. However it is not covered by obesity guidance from government health watchdog the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.

Some obesity specialists said they were shocked by the trial planned for Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which has yet to get ethical approval from the hospital, but is expected to start the trial in approximately 6 months time.

Professor David Haslam, a GP and chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said he was shocked by the trial.

‘It is a desperate situation when we have come to this,’ he said. ‘One has to ask if it can be right to subject children and young teenagers to the trauma and discomfort of having a gastric balloon fitted.’

Amongst all the uncertainty and infighting between the different organisations and specialists one very important issue has been missed completely. To put a young child already traumatised as a result of their obesity through such a procedure as this is distressing enough. But to do it based on flawed science is absolutely disgraceful. The whole process is flawed from the very beginning, as it’s based on old thinking that weight gain is directly related to calories consumed and calories burned. This is simply untrue as not all calories are equal.

It’s increasingly evident that society is heading for an off the shelf a surgical or drug alternative to the obesity epidemics. To what end? We’re afraid the jury is out on that one, though being part of it is optional, you choose!

‘Education is paramount if we are ever going to win this battle with obesity’ – Paleoworks

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