Take it to Heart: New device may help obese people lose weight - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

By reporter: Julie Humphreys

Take it to Heart: New device may help obese people lose weight

Obesity is a major health problem in our country with 2/3 of Americans overweight or obese. Now researchers are testing a new therapy that works on the nerves in our brain that control hunger.

Last year in the U.S. 200,000 weight loss procedures were done, gastric by-pass surgeries, lap banding, and the like. That's the most in the history of that medical field. But there a lot of overweight and obese people who could benefit from such surgeries but don't have them for fear of complications.

Now some doctors are hoping a small device might be an option for those people.  It's called the V-Bloc.  It controls the vagus nerves which help regulate our sense of hunger and fullness in the brain. In a minimally invasive procedure a pace-maker like device is implanted in the patient with electrodes going to the vagus nerves. The device can be turned on and off by the patient.

Dr. Scott Shikore, Bariatric Surgeon says "Patients don't feel the same hunger, don't have the same need to eat the size portions that they did prior to the device being activated. New technology like the V-Bloc have come along and offer patients the potential for the good results with dramatically less complications."

The device is being used in a study for obese people between the ages of 18 and 55. The study using V-Bloc therapy for weight loss is being done at a handful of medical centers around the country including Tufts New England Medical Center.