A study about a new procedure for the treatment of obesity has raised some concerns. This is because, while the treatment leads to weight loss, the pounds a person sheds consist of skeletal muscle as well as fat. Also, body fat loss seems to be mainly of the subcutaneous — as opposed to the riskier visceral — type.
Visceral fat can harm health, and some people with obesity resort to surgical procedures to remove it.
Skeletal muscle is necessary for good health; its loss can result in not only physical problems, but it can also impair metabolism and raise the risk of injury.
Visceral fat is the type of fat that surrounds the organs deep inside the abdomen. Doctors have linked carrying too much of it to health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The procedure is called left gastric artery embolization. Interventional radiologists have been using it for decades to stop bleeding in emergencies.
However, the idea of using gastric artery embolization to treat obesity is new, and clinical trials are currently evaluating its safety and effectiveness for such a purpose.
The aim of the treatment is to reduce the effect of an appetite hormone by injecting microscopic beads to block an artery that supplies blood to the stomach.
The study’s findings featured recently at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that is currently taking place in Chicago, IL.
Study lead author Dr. Edwin A. Takahashi, who is a vascular and interventional radiology fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, explains that a lot of research has shown that gastric artery embolization can achieve weight loss.
“However,” he adds, “there has been no data on what is contributing to the weight loss, whether the patients are losing fat, as desired, or muscle mass, or some combination of the two.”
Obesity is a significant global public health issue with links to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and other serious illnesses and health problems.
Rates of obesity and being overweight have almost tripled worldwide over the last 40 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO estimates for 2016 suggest that being overweight affects more than 1.9 billion of the world’s adults. This figure includes some 650 million adults with obesity.
While changes to lifestyle factors such as diet and physical activity can work, for many people, these are not enough, and they opt to undergo weight-loss operations that reduce the size of the stomach.
Such surgical procedures have proved effective as treatments for obesity, but they are costly and carry risks and complications.
Source: Medical News Today