New non-surgical treatment for obesity launched in Riyadh

Updated 21 November 2017

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.


Ithra marks National Day with exhibitions, competitions and performances

Updated 23 September 2020

Ithra marks National Day with exhibitions, competitions and performances

  • The study reveals a need to protect and preserve Saudi heritage in the face of cultural homogenization

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) is marking Saudi Arabia’s 90th National Day with exhibitions, a scavenger hunt, a fine dining pop-up, and artistic performances.

The center started its National Day celebrations on Sept. 21 and the activities run through to Sept. 26. 

Rania Biltagi, the head of communication and partnerships at Ithra, said she hoped that people this year would ask themselves what being Saudi meant to them.

“I am proud to be part of an organization created as a creative and cultural destination perfectly positioned to drive and participate in conversations such as these,” she told Arab News. “Our mandate involves igniting cultural curiosity, exploring knowledge and inspiring creativity, and it’s a task we don’t take lightly.”

“Saudi at heart, multicultural by nature” had been the Ithra motto from the start, she said, and the center was always looking inward even as it looked outward.

Biltagi shared the results of research that Ithra had conducted about the impact of globalization on Saudi Arabia’s culture.

“The study reveals a need to protect and preserve Saudi heritage in the face of cultural homogenization. However, it also shows that Saudis are willing and able to embrace modernity and globalization while still cherishing their unique national identity.”

Ithra has created the “Kingdom of Cultures” exhibition, which will take visitors on an interactive and state-of-the-art journey through Saudi Arabia’s lands and tell stories about the Saudi people. It will also feature crafts, dialects and customs.

Writer and Saudi heritage expert Ali Ibrahim Moghawi said he was honored to be participating in the festival as part of the “Flower Men” booth.

“To be representing our great nation at the very place where oil was first discovered, a place that represents the heart of progress in Saudi Arabia, the place that has done the most to respect our heritage and support every Saudi generation future, past, and present, is an honor,” he told Arab News.

Ithra has scheduled musical performances from Saudi band Al-Farabi, which will also feature the pianist Abeer Balubaid and singer Ameen Farsi. Award-winning poet Abdulatif Almubarak will host an evening of poetry – “Aswat” – accompanied by musicians in a celebration of Saudi civilization.

The center has devised a pop-up restaurant called Takya, which will offer guests a fine dining experience with Saudi fusion cuisine and modern takes on old favorites.

It has also announced plans to revamp and renovate an old farmer’s market in Alkhobar’s Al-Ulaya district to give it an energetic and artsy edge. The covered space is being redecorated and will feature areas for art and music, in addition to a dedicated and upgraded space where local farmers can sell their produce.

Ithra plans to curate installations at the market to make it more visually appealing as well as to take art and creativity directly to the community.

It has scheduled two celebration sessions a day with limited space and occupancy. The first runs from 4:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. while the second is from 8:30 p.m. until midnight.

Tickets to the events, as well as the special performances, are available on Ithra’s website.