Paul McKenna’s Hypnotic Gastric Band: Breakthrough or Gimmick?
Paul McKenna has released a new “Gastric Band” weight loss app claiming that hypnotherapy is a scientifically proven method of weight loss, but can it really have the same effect as the surgery?
There are a large number of weight loss apps available on the market, with some claiming to use hypnotherapy to aid in fighting obesity. A number of leading surgeons are now warning against apps that claim to show the same results as drastic and costly surgical procedures.
The same doctors are warning that they believe that giving people the hope that applications will offer the same results as a gastric-band surgery is not right.
Paul McKenna claims that the Hypnotic Gastric Band app, which costs only £4.99, can “help convince the unconscious mind that a gastric band has been fitted, so the body behaves as though a band is physically present.” This is quite a bold claim to make as the £6000 surgery which the user is supposed to believe has taken place involves an inflatable band being placed around the top of the stomach, creating a small pouch and making the patient feel fuller faster.
Is Hypnosis a Long Term Solution?
ead physician at Imperial College Healthcare’s obesity service, Dr Carel le Roux is not convinced that the app can fulfil its promises and says that “Hypnosis isn’t powerful enough to be effective in the long term.”
Consultant surgeon Paul Super was equally as damning about the prospects of the app achieving what it claims to, saying that it “is no more a physical operation than a hypnotic pacemaker or hypnotic hip replacement.” He also questioned why, if it worked, it was not being offered by the NHS.
The NHS currently only offers weight loss surgeries to people with a Body Mass Index of 40 or over unless the patient has a major health condition, in which case this is lowered to 35. The surgeries are clinically proven and patients who undergo the treatment can expect to lose around a third of their excess body weight in the first six months, and half within two years.
Bariatric surgery is only normally made available on the NHS after the initial standard NHS treatments involving healthy diet, exercise and medications have failed to give the desired results.
6,500 weight-loss procedure were carried out in 2013 in the UK, including gastric band and bypass operations.
In response to the negative comments about his app, Paul McKenna says that hypnotherapy is a proven method of aiding weight loss. A spokesperson for the celebrity hypnotist called the app “an innovative variation on a scientifically tried and tested means of weight loss.”
A 1985 study looking at 109 people who underwent hypnosis for weight loss showed a significant increase in the amount of weight that they lost over a 2 year period, when compared to a control group who received the same behavioural treatment but not the hypnosis.
However, the NHS says that there is insufficient evidence to be able to recommend hypnosis for weight loss, while it can help with other conditions such as IBS.
“A Comple Waste of Money”
Greg Forde, who is a hypnotist and works with people wanting to lose weight, has labelled the app as “a complete waste of money” as it tries to link the hypnotherapy to a physical operation. Mr Forde went on to say that people are vulnerable and may think that the app is a “magic bullet”, while making the point that people looking to lose weight have different triggers and should be treated as individuals.
There is also a real concern that calling the app a “hypnotic gastric band” could put severely obese people off from having surgeries. Gianluca Bonanomi, clinical lead for general and bariatric surgery at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said “Gastric-band surgery is a big commitment. It is expensive if done privately and carries some risk, even though it is a very small one. Patients might see it as scary surgery, and then they come across a “hypnotic gastric band” that seems to be as effective and costs a lot less.
“A physical band creates a barrier to food intake and reduces the appetite by having an effect on satiety on the brain. Mental-health approaches like hypnotherapy and psychotherapy can be beneficial, but it’s potentially misleading to associate them with a surgical procedure.”
There are also doctors who are in favour of the new app such as GP Michael Carmi who believes the app offers a safer and cheaper option to patients who are thinking about bariatric surgery. He thinks that the term “hypnotic gastric band is merely a metaphor for significant weight loss” adding; “If a hypnotic approach was offered to patients contemplating surgery, then this would reduce mortality and morbidity and be a considerable financial saving for the NHS.”