Home » Future of Healthcare » How tech offers a smart way to shed pounds — and change lifestyles

Benoit Chardon

Chief Commercial Officer, Allurion

Losing weight isn’t easy. However, non-invasive tech can help break the cycle of overeating and give access to a clinical team that encourages sustainable lifestyle change.

Something must be done about the obesity epidemic, insists Benoit Chardon, Chief Commercial Officer of weight loss solution company, Allurion. “Obesity is an increasing problem around the world,” he says. “It has significant economic consequences and negatively affects GDP — but, more importantly, it has serious health implications.”

The trouble is obesity is a complex issue: a chronic disease that is linked to an individual’s relationship with food. Losing weight is similarly problematic because there’s a huge gap between non-invasive weight loss solutions that are cheap and easy — but less effective — and invasive solutions (such as gastric band surgery) that are effective but riskier.

Taking a break from hunger to make a lasting lifestyle change

However, Chardon believes that the weight loss programme his company has developed closes this gap. It’s available privately and, to be eligible for it, patients must be over 18 with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or above. On average, they are expected to lose 15% of their total body weight over the duration of the programme, which lasts approximately 16 weeks.

First, patients swallow an intragastric balloon that inflates in their stomach to create a feeling of fullness, which helps break the habit of snacking and encourages smaller portions at mealtimes. Placement requires no surgery, endoscopy, anaesthesia or medication — and, after approximately 16 weeks, the balloon passes out of the body naturally.

A patient’s progress can be monitored in
real time, and changes can be made to
customise their weight loss journey.

“This sounds obvious,” says Chardon, “but people who try but fail to lose weight usually do so for one reason: they’re hungry. But if they don’t feel hungry for four months — if they have ‘a honeymoon from hunger’ — they can take advantage of that time to change their behaviour.”

This lifestyle shift is essential, he explains, otherwise — once the programme is finished — a patient could fall back into bad habits and regain the weight. So, when the balloon is in place, an entire behaviour change programme kicks in.

Using AI and big data to measure weight loss among patients

Patients are given a tracker and app, as well as the backing of a clinical support team to help them make long-lasting lifestyle changes. By leveraging AI and big data, the team — which can include physicians, nutritionists, fitness coaches and psychologists — measures information about a patient’s weight, body fat, activity, sleep and other critical metrics.

“A patient’s progress can be monitored in real time, and changes can be made to customise their weight loss journey,” says Chardon. “There is a lot of complexity going on behind the scenes, which patients don’t see. They get a simple, non-invasive procedure delivered in a safe, effective and convenient way.”

Recently, Allurion entered into an agreement that will result in it becoming a publicly listed company. Chardon hopes that — long-term — the extra funding this will raise will enable research and development (R&D) breakthroughs such as sensors on the intragastric balloon that tell the app what the patient is eating so that diet plans can be adapted accordingly.

“Thankfully, I believe a weight loss revolution is underway,” he says. “This is powered by better public understanding of weight loss — and by smart technology.”

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