New non-surgical treatment for obesity launched in Riyadh

Updated 21 November 2017
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New non-surgical treatment for obesity launched in Riyadh

RIYADH: A new non-surgical, fully reversible treatment, the “Obalon Balloon System,” is now attracting many obese Saudis who are unable to lose weight through traditional diet.

In Saudi Arabia, where the prevalence of obesity is a growing health concern resulting in a number of other diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, hyperlipidemia, and osteoarthritis, this new treatment is gaining popularity.

The effectiveness of the “Obalon balloon system” for losing excess weight, heralded as an innovative solution for individuals who suffer from obesity, was discussed at a medical conference organized by Al-Sultan Saudi Medical Company held in Riyadh, and attended by an elite group of doctors specialized in obesity treatment.

During the past three years alone, a total of 5,500 Saudis used the Obalon balloon system for weight loss. The success of the system is estimated at 90 percent, whereas 10 percent failed due to non-compliance of the patient with the required diet and physical exercise.

The Food Drug Authority (FDA), and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), have approved the Obalon balloon system as the latest, safest and most-developed medical technique to help individuals lose weight without surgery.
Dr. Jaime Ponce, MD, an expert in bariatric Surgery at CHI Memorial Hospital in the US, and former president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), said the modern Obalon system adopted in many developed states is known for its effective results and total safety. Clinical studies proved that patients using this technique have lost double the weight they had lost using the normal diet and sport only, he noted.

“This technique is attracting many patients in KSA, especially since weight loss is considered to be one of the difficult challenges they face, while many patients had recourse to liposuction or to sleeve gastrectomy which may cause dangerous side effects,” Dr. Ponce noted.

He pointed out that the Obalon technique does not work alone. It should be accompanied by diet and exercise so that the person reaches the optimal weight.

The patient has to swallow three lightweight balloons over a period of six months, which will then inflate using nitrogen gas and occupy a part of the stomach which suppresses the desire to eat more. Each balloon placement takes less than 10 minutes. The older version of the system was for a three-month duration. No surgery or enteroscopy is involved in the balloon process.

The Obalon system is used to lose the excess weight among adults whose BMI (body mass index) is between 27-35, and who failed in losing their weight through diets or sports only.

Emad Al-Zaben, group general manager of Al-Sultan Saudi Medical Company, said the company is cooperating with the health sector to offer the latest techniques for overweight treatment, including Obalon.


Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat: ‘Our security and religion are a red line’

Updated 19 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat: ‘Our security and religion are a red line’

  • Al-Jubeir's statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gul and installations within the Kingdom
  • He accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is doing its best to avoid war in the region but stands ready to respond with "all strength and determination" to defend itself from any threat, the Kingdom's top diplomat said on Sunday.

In a news conference, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir accused Iran of committing "countless crimes" including seeking to destabilize the region. He urged the international community to take responsibility to stop the Islamic republic from doing so.

"Our security and religion are a red line," Al-Jubeir said. His statement comes following last week's attacks on Saudi oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and installations within the Kingdom.

Iran’s foreign minister was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency on Saturday as saying his country is “not seeking war” even as the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Tehran was in a “full-fledged intelligence war with the US.“

The US has ordered bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Arabian Gulf over an unexplained threat they perceive from Iran, raising tensions a year after Trump pulled America out of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Al-Jubeir said Iranian regime can spare the region the dangers of war by adhering to international laws and covenants, by stopping its interference in the internal affairs of other countries of the region, by stopping its support for terrorist groups and militias, and immediately halting its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

"Saudi Arabia stresses that its hand is always extended to peace and seeks to achieve it, and believes that the peoples of the region, including the Iranian people, have the right to live in security and stability and to move towards development," he said.

"We want peace and stability and we want to focus on the Kingdom's Vision 2030 which will enrich Saudi people’s lives," he added.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have repeatedly accused Iran of bankrolling the activities of its proxy Shiite militias such as the Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen and various groups in Iraq.

Houthi militias had repeatedly launched ballistic missiles and rockets into civilian targets in Saudi Arabia since a Saudi-led Arab Coalition threw its support behind the government of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi against the Iran-backed power-grabbers. Last week, they owned responsibility for the drone attacks on two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jubeir also urged Qatar, an estranged member of the GCC to stop supporting extremists and terrorists and return to the fold. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt severed trade and diplomatic ties with Qatar in 2017, charging Doha of siding with terror groups that have been destabilizing the region. 

Instead of making amends with its GCC brothers, Qatar sought help from Turkey and Iran in bid to alleviate the impact of the boycott action of the group known as the anti-terror quarter (ATQ).