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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Anti-obesity device fakes satiety
Image of obesity
The device fools the brain into thinking the stomach is full
Obese people can be fitted with a device that fools their brain into thinking they have eaten to help them lose weight.

The technology, by Transneuronix, comprises a matchbox-sized pacemaker implanted into the abdomen, linked to electrodes in the stomach wall.

Experts said it could be a new tool to fight the UK's obesity problem.

However, it would not work miracles and the user must still eat a healthy diet and do exercise, they cautioned.

Full up

The device works by triggering the nerves in the stomach that are involved in digestion.

Having surgery does not excuse you from a personal responsibility for your health

These tell the brain that the stomach is full so the individual feels as though they have already eaten even though they have not.

Similar devices are available on the market.

A surgeon at Aberdeen University, Mr Duff Bruce, has been trained by US experts how to fit the Transneuronix device.

He will fit it in three patients in the coming months as part of a clinical trial.

His colleague, Professor Ian Broom, has referred five or six other patients to see if they are also suitable candidates.

Professor Broom, from the department of Clinical Biochemistry and Metabolic Medicine at The Robert Gordon University, said: "It will only be suitable for some patients - they would have to be morbidly obese even to be considered."

However, Transneuronix tells potential patients: "Surgery is not a cure for the chronic disease of morbid obesity, but it can be an effective tool to fight the disease.

"Having surgery does not excuse you from a personal responsibility for your health. If you snack between meals, do not exercise regularly, and do not participate in ongoing post-surgical therapeutic support programs, you can regain weight."

Dr David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said the technology could be "a new tool in the armoury" for fighting obesity.

"It is potentially very valuable, as it could provide another less invasive option other than surgery.

"But it will not create miracles. You have to do all the hard work with it."

Currently, more than 65% of men and 55% of women in the UK are overweight or obese, official figures suggest.

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