LIFESTYLE

Could This Electronic Pill Help Combat Britain's Growing Obesity Problem?

19/05/2015 13:53 BST | Updated 19/05/2015 14:59 BST

It's no secret that Britain - and, in fact, the rest of the western world - is experiencing something of an obesity epidemic.

It is estimated that three quarters of men in the UK will be obese or overweight by 2030.

In response to this global health issue, an electronic pill has been designed which could effectively prevent overeating.

The pill is no bigger than a vitamin tablet and has been designed for people who want to slim down, but struggle when it comes to portion-control.

obesity pill

The swallowable pill, designed by MelCap Systems, works by emitting vibrations which make users feel full.

When the capsule arrives in the stomach, it absorbs fluids in the stomach and increases in size, allowing it to remain in place and work its magic for up to 21 days.

Using a wireless remote control (which can be an android phone or iPhone), the capsule is activated and delivers electronic stimulation to the nerves of the stomach wall.

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The electronic stimulation enhances the feeling that enough food has been eaten and helps to control the urge to gorge on more food.

Therapy can then be repeated for up to 21 days using the same capsule. After this period, the tablet will simply pass through the body and patients can swallow another pill.

While it might sound too good to be true, there have been mixed responses to the electronic capsule.

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Dr Nitin Shori, medical director of the Pharmacy2U Online Doctor service and a working NHS GP, notes that it's an "interesting concept" but the results of clinical trials are yet to be seen.

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Britain's Obesity Crisis

“At present, one of the popular medical treatments is orlistat pills, which can stop nearly a third of dietary fat from being absorbed," says Dr Shori.

"In some cases gastric surgery is used to cause the feeling of fullness after eating smaller portions."

But he adds that lifestyle changes are always an important first step and that eating a balanced diet and keeping active are crucial for keeping excess weight off.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the National Obesity Forum's Tam Fry told the Daily Mail that she welcomes the pill and thinks that the technology is going in the right direction.

However, she added that "we don't know the cost" and that the NHS is "getting very tough on price, even when medication is known to be effective".

Meanwhile a spokesperson for the NHS told HuffPost UK Lifestyle that tackling obesity is one of their key priorities, particularly as the health condition is linked to lifestyle factors which can be changed and, as a result, could reduce the burden on the NHS from "preventable illnesses".