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Weight Management

Warning On Gastric Band Weight-Loss Claims

One of the latest ways to promote weight loss is the application of a gastric band.  These devices are implanted around the upper part of the stomach to create a ‘pouch’ which effectively reduces the amount that you can eat at one time.

A couple of these devices have been approved by the US FDA for patients whom meet certain criteria.  However, the FDA has issued warning letters to a number of organizations promoting these devices as they claim that they are not advising patients of the risks…of which there are many, such as…

•    nausea and vomiting
•    difficulty swallowing
•    gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
•    upset stomach or pain
•    stretching of the stomach pouch
•    stretching of the esophagus
•    moving of the gastric band, requiring another surgery to reposition it

•    erosion of the band through the stomach wall and into the stomach, requiring another surgery

If you are overweight, please don’t be tempted by this procedure.  Even if you don’t suffer any of the side effects…which is unlikely, it is certainly not the way to promote good health.

Losing weight is really not that difficult if you apply the age old principle of calories in, versus calories burnt.

Earlier this year I had a situation in which my weight had crept up a bit (over the last couple of years) and I decided that I needed to lose 7kgs.  As most of us have experienced at various times, weight can be put on by ‘stealth’ if you don’t keep an eye on it, unless you are one of these people who can eat what and how much you like and nothing changes.

Anyway, it is simple to lose weight if you work on one simple premise.  3,500 calories is equivalent to half a kg or a bit more than a pound.  So, if you want to lose 7kgs as I did that meant I had to make an ‘adjustment’ of 24,500 calories.   The question is over what period of time is that ‘adjustment’ to take place.  I elected to do it at the rate of half a kg a week or 3,500 calories a week, or 500 calories a day.

So, it then becomes a simple mathematical exercise.  Either reduce food intake by 500 calories a day, or increase the amount of exercise by that amount.  I elected to do a bit of both.  Around an average of 150 calories a day from exercise and 350 calories in food!

By not aiming to adjust my habits by more than 500 calories a day I was able to achieve that objective and did indeed average a weight loss of half a kg a week and did it painlessly. All I had to do was be aware of how many calories in what I was eating and drinking.  For example, if I was out for a meal with company and having a beer, I would limit it to one instead of two because I know that one beer is the equivalent of having to do about 20 minutes on the treadmill. (About 120 calories) So, I would think…’now if I have this beer am I prepared to do an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill?’  Invariably the answer was no.  The same thing applied to my food.  If I was having a delicious meal and where I would previously go back for another helping I would ask myself the same question.

The bottom line…I never went hungry, I have got back to the weight that I wanted so I am not lugging around the extra 7kgs and I have never felt so good.  Actually I have lost more than 7kgs of fat because I have put on more muscle.

What I am trying to say here is that you can lose weight painlessly and without getting hungry and there is no need to put your health at risk.  It takes a relatively long time for the weight to build up and it takes some time to get rid of it.  Slow weight loss is much better than fast weight loss. It also gives your skin a chance to take up the ‘slack’.

Don’t be tempted by the apparently easy and fast solutions.  If you would like to read a bit more about the gastric band you can go to the FDA’s website by clicking here.


  • “Hi Warren, I need to loose weight as well, so I read you article with great interest, but I don’t really get the figures. You say that 3.500 calories are equal to kg, that means that 7.000 calories are equal to 1 kg! Should you then adjust with 49.000 calories to loose 7 kg?? Or is it me, who just don’t get it?? thanks. Grethe”

    grethe vittrup hestbaech January 27 2012

  • “You are fortunate that your body response to the calories in/calories out theory. Unfortunately, for the majority of people, this does not work. There is a need to understand the source of the calories, not just the count. Gary Taubes’ "Good Calories, Bad Calories" is an excellent compilation of research outlining the flawed science behind the in/out theory. Conventional wisdom is that if you eat less and exercise more, you’ll lose weight. Not necessarily true for most people. People need to reduce intake of foods that increase insulin levels and that means eliminating grains and sugar from the diet. It’s that simple.”

    Pat December 15 2011

  • “Hi Pat, Thanks for the comments.  I haven’t read Gary Taubes book but I will now order it and comment further after I have read it.  I certainly agree that there are good and bad calories, no question about that and as such I am sure that I will agree with much of what he says. Some calories, particularly those in alcohol and refined foods have little or no nutritional value and they will contribute to weight gain.  But, at the end of the day there is considerable evidence that the age old premise of calories in and calories burnt have a bigger influence on weight gain or loss than the type of calories. I know that Gary puts the blame of grains and sugar in the diet, and there is no doubt that you can do without sugar and for most people less grains would be beneficial, but you can still lose weight on a diet of virtually grains only.  To illustrate my point one only has to consider those prisoners during the second world war who were forced to exist on a diet of only rice with the odd bit of meat.  No fat ones amongst that lot as their calorie intake was much less than what they were burning each day.  The advantage of losing weight by watching input of calories and expenditure of calories is that it is easier to maintain a good healthy balanced diet.  Part of the problem for people who eat a lot of grains and refined food and not enough fats is that they are usually hungry all the time and if they were to count the calorie intake they would like find that they are ingesting many more calories a day than someone who has a more balance wholesome diet thus the reason for their inability to lose weight.”

    Warren Matthews December 15 2011

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