Initial trials of an implantable medical device suggest that it holds promise as a new obesity treatment.
Researchers studied 31 obese patients who received the vagal nerve blocking device (VBLOC).
The volunteers were implanted with a pacemaker-sized device under the skin which sends high-frequency electrical signals to the vagal nerves, blocking the nerve impulses between the brain and the stomach and pancreas and thereby influencing digestion after a meal.
Publishing their findings in the journal Surgery, the researchers revealed that patients lost an average of nearly 15 per cent of their excess weight, with a quarter losing more than 25 per cent and three patients losing more than 30 per cent.
Dr Michael Camilleri, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in the US, commented: "The findings published this month are promising, but the next study will tell us whether VBLOC therapy is a viable alternative to gastric bypass or gastric banding, and for which patients."