Can the obesity crisis be solved by turning off the hunger hormone? NHS medical staff believe they are able to stop Ghrelin through blocking blood supply to the stomach.

  • Doctors think they’ve found a way for ghrelin, the “hungry” hormone to be turned off. 
  • The procedure is performed with local anaesthesia and lasts only 40 minutes
  • It involves cutting down on blood supply from top to stomach, and cutting the desire to overeat 










NHS doctors are testing a revolutionary alternative to fat loss surgery. It is fast enough that patients could receive treatment during lunch breaks.

Doctors believe they have found a way to turn off ghrelin – which is nicknamed the ‘hungry hormone’ – by blocking the blood supply to the top of the stomach.

This procedure, which is performed under local anaesthesia and takes only 40 minutes, will reduce the urge to overeat and help you lose weight.

Ahmed R. Ahmed (a surgeon in bariatrics at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington, Central London) is currently leading a trial. He said the procedure, bariatric embolisation, would cost the NHS £1,500 – a quarter of the price of normal fat-loss surgery.

The NHS can only carry out 6,000 operations per year such as gastric bypasses, bypasses or sleeves due to costs and logistical issues. Long waiting lists are the result.

Ahmed stated that patients would be discharged from hospital within two hours if routine bariatric embolisation was made a habit. Ahmed said that patients could be admitted hungry and leave feeling full. This involves making small cuts in your wrist or groin and then passing the hollow wire through blood vessels. After that, microscopic beads block the artery to the upper stomach.

Doctors believe they have found a way to turn off ghrelin – which is nicknamed the ‘hungry hormone’ – by blocking the blood supply to the top of the stomach (stock image)

The reduction of blood supply from the fundus has been shown to reduce ghrelin, with small studies showing that obesity patients lose on average about ten percent. Some people also experience weight loss greater than this.

In order to improve the health of your body and reduce the likelihood of suffering from cardiovascular disease, you should lose weight.

Ahmed claimed that because of its speed and cost, the procedure would be more affordable for obesity treatment. But, first, it was necessary to establish the effectiveness of the intervention.

Ahmed and his team have recruited 76 volunteers. Each one has a body weight index between 35-50, which makes them very or morbidly overweight. The blocker beads will be inserted in half of the volunteers, while others will receive a placebo with saline. All will then be monitored for one year.

The trial has received £1.2 million from the NHS’s National Institute of Health Research and is backed by Imperial College London.

The trial has received £1.2 million from the NHS's National Institute of Health Research and is backed by Imperial College London (stock image)

The trial has received £1.2 million from the NHS’s National Institute of Health Research and is backed by Imperial College London (stock image)

Although no patients have been treated in Britain yet, the US has seen around 25 who have undergone the same treatment. It was created by Dr Clifford Weiss of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore. Kirsten Kerfoot (32-year-old local nurse) has lost 6 and 1/2 stone.

She is a mother to one and 5’11in tall. I remember seeing a Chinese food advertisement on TV, and thinking “I want that!” This thought would stick in my head for days. That was my experience my entire life – with food having this grip on me.

“Thanks to this procedure, I no longer rely on food as much. It’s almost like you’re freed from the chains of food.

Parallel placebo-controlled trials are being conducted by Dr Weiss in 64 US patients. According to Dr. Weiss, the aim is for patients to be as healthy and painless as possible.

Tam Fry from the National Obesity Forum praised the procedure and said that there had to be cheaper, faster alternatives to bariatric surgical.

For more information about the trial and to sign up, please email embiotrial@ic.ac.uk

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