NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There’s a new weapon in the never-ending battle of the bulge.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, we’ve tried diet, exercise, pharmaceuticals, even surgery and still our national waistline expands.

Now, a new capsule from Europe may help obese patients slim down. It’s a pill called Obalon, that, when swallowed, expands to become a balloon in your stomach.

“This balloon will act to educate them about portion size and retrain their brain and their mindset a little,” gastric surgeon Sally Norton said.

Helene Fleckney lost 19 pounds during the clinical trial in England, Gomez reported. “I’m delighted with that – it’s made me feel so much better in myself,” Fleckney said.

According to Gomez, the patient swallows a capsule with a balloon inside. Once in the stomach, doctors use the very thin catheter that’s attached to the balloon to inflate it to about the size of an apple. They then detach the catheter, leaving the balloon behind.

The idea is to make someone feel full so they eat less. Doctors can insert as many as three of these balloons depending on the patient’s stomach, Gomez reported. The balloons stay in place for up to 12 weeks. Then a doctor passes another catheter into the stomach to deflate and pull the balloons out.

Obalon has helped obese patients lose up to 20 pounds in three months, Gomez reported.

But, when the balloon is taken out the stomach is the same size as before, possibly even bigger, according to health and well-being expert Tim Bean.

The manufacturer said the balloon is designed as a jump-start to a lifestyle program that leads to permanent weight loss.

According to Gomez, side effects include some nausea and vomiting in the first few days. The balloon is approved in Europe but is just beginning clinical trials in the United States.

The cost has yet to be determined, but in Britain, a pair of balloons runs about $5,000.

Check Out These Other Stories From

More From CBS New York

Download Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE