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Is this one of the world’s most discreet weight loss weapons?

Balloon procedure offers dramatic results without surgery

WITH the pandemic having expanded the UK’s waistline as a result of poorer eating habits, stress, and interrupted access to gyms, there’s no denying that COVID-19 has prompted many to look for a weight loss kickstart.

Research by Transform Hospital Group, one of the UK’s leading providers of weight loss solutions, showed 64% of those surveyed claim they put on weight during lockdown, with 12% gaining 6kg or more. Eating due to feeling bored was the main cause, with 68% citing this as a cause of their weight gain.*

Demand for clinical weight loss interventions such as bariatric surgery has also soared – with a 71% increase in enquiries and an 103% increase in treatments carried out between Jan – Dec 2021 compared to the same period the previous year.

Incredible results from this type of procedure have recently been displayed by former TOWIE star James ‘Arg’ Argent, who before losing 13 stone following his gastric sleeve surgery, was warned by doctors to ‘lose weight or die.’

Weight management that nobody has to know about

Transform Hospital Group, who performed James’ bariatric surgery in April 2021, have introduced their latest clinical weight-reduction treatment, the Allurion Balloon, which could help those with significant weight concerns.

The treatment allows patients to potentially lose 10-15% of their excess body weight within six months, without going under the knife. The discreet procedure offers dramatic results without the recovery and attention that surgery can bring, meaning the patient can keep their treatment private.

Christine Mozzamdar, Director of Clinical Services at Transform Hospital Group, said: “Following almost two years of restrictions, the issue of obesity has been brought into sharp focus by COVID-19. As one of the UK’s leading providers of weight management solutions, we have seen increasing numbers of patients coming to us for support as they struggle with their weight, some even facing life-limiting illnesses such as type two diabetes, heart disease, and other worrying conditions brought on by lack of physical activity and comfort eating during lockdown.  

“It’s well documented that surgical solutions can dramatically improve or even reverse the complications that come with being overweight, however, surgery is not always a viable option for some people. The Allurion Balloon offers a very effective alternative.

“We see this as a game-changing solution for those who want to lose weight and transform their relationship with food without going down the surgical route. Patients can come in and have the procedure, in a clinical setting and under the care of a medical professional, without any serious downtime. So much so that nobody has to know – it’s a very discreet procedure and that can be attractive for someone who wants to keep their weight management treatment private.

“We are delighted to be bolstering our range of weight management solutions for patients who might be struggling to reduce their BMI and their daily calorie intake. Allurion Balloon is a holistic solution that can help people lose weight over a period of six months and kickstart a healthy lifestyle that will guide their weight loss for life.”

A safe, non-invasive alternative to weight loss surgery

The state-of-the-art treatment allows patients to take control of their weight by swallowing the vegetarian Allurion Balloon, which is then filled with water by the medical professional overseeing the procedure. The balloon then trains the stomach to feel full so that patients eat less and in turn lose weight.

A proven alternative to an ineffective diet, without measures such as surgery, anaesthesia or endoscopy, the balloon is simply swallowed. The medical procedure takes around 15 minutes to carry out and is performed by a doctor at Transform Hospital Group’s Burcot Hall hospital in Bromsgrove or The Pines hospital near Manchester. It is supported by a 16-week lifestyle programme.

Patients are provided with a watch that tracks weight loss progress following their procedure, alongside a six-month programme and full access to a virtual care suite to ensure that they are supported in adapting to a healthier lifestyle and a better attitude towards food.

The procedure is not only highly effective and safe, but comfortable for patients as the device that is swallowed is the size of a piece of food. The balloon passes through the system naturally, without the need for surgical removal, within four months. Patients are then supported with their programme for a further two months, to ensure that they are adapting to their lifestyle change without any issues.

The treatment is also suitable for individuals on the higher end of the BMI scale, as patients can be fitted with subsequent balloons following their first procedure to help them continue their weight loss journey. To be suitable for the procedure, patients must have a BMI of 27 or more.

Christine Mozzamdar explained: “The balloon is designed to ensure it is comfortable to be swallowed. It’s created in a unique elliptical shape to reduce the amount of contact with the stomach wall. But we offer much more than just a device – this is a multi-disciplinary behavioural change programme.

“99.9 percent of patients find the balloon easy to swallow and simply report experiencing a cold sensation when it is being filled with water. It then creates a feeling of fullness within the stomach, encouraging smaller portions and less snacking.

“Patients won’t have to go to theatre or an operating room, they simply have the process carried out within an x-ray room and wear a gown over their own clothes. They literally swallow the device and three minutes later it’s being filled with water. It only takes about five minutes for this to be completed and then they are x-rayed to ensure the balloon is suitably placed within the stomach.

“Following this, patients are then given their app, scale and health tracker and they simply walk out of the appointment and carry on with their day-to-day life.

“One of the great things about Allurion is that patients can have it done discreetly – no-one would know that they have had the procedure, so it’s almost a secret procedure for weight loss.”

Martin Edwards, a spokesman for Allurion, also commented: “This is perfect for those who struggle to lose weight but cannot go down the surgery route. It will help patients to make real, lasting long-term changes when it comes to their diet.

“We are thrilled that Transform Hospital Group will be offering this transformative procedure to patients as part of its weight management services.”

For further information or to find out more about the range of treatments available visit www.thehospitalgroup.org. 

* Censuswide survey of 1,001 people with a BMI of 30 or over, carried out September 2020.

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Lifestyle

HALF OF ADULTS SUFFER ANXIETY, REVEALS NEW RESEARCH

Leading Experts Identify ‘Epidemic Of Anxiety’ and Call for Empowerment Tools

New research reveals that half (48%) of all adults in the UK experience anxiety, equating to nearly 26 million people.[i] Given the widespread prevalence of this mental health condition, leading health experts have identified an ‘epidemic of anxiety’.

Commenting in a new ‘Empowerment in the Epidemic of Anxiety Report’,[ii] the panel of community and industry health experts highlighted the growing burden of mental health issues on an already overstretched NHS. They conclude that the way forward must include empowering and supporting those with mild anxiety to develop coping strategies.

Surge of Anxiety

The UK has seen a marked rise in generalised anxiety over the past decade, especially among younger people and women.[iii] Over 8 million people (around 1 in 10) are living with a diagnosable anxiety disorder at any one time,[iv] but this may not paint the whole picture. New research commissioned by Kalms Herbal Remedies shows that half (48%) the adult population often suffers from anxiety at a level that impacts their day-to-day living.i

Dr Sarah Jarvis, general practitioner, clinical consultant and expert panellist, comments: “We have a perfect storm of issues in relation to anxiety. The figures for people suffering with anxiety have increased considerably during the pandemic. To add to the problem, waiting lists for mental health services have increased further. This lack of availability of service inevitably has a huge impact on general practice as well – people with anxiety consult their GP more often, and I have found it increasingly difficult to be able to offer services for people at the milder end of the anxiety and depression spectrum.”

Self-Help Toolbox

To help prevent mild anxiety from progressing, and to improve the quality of people’s lives sooner, the expert panel recommend that people utilise a ‘mild anxiety toolbox’ – a series of powerful, evidence-based tools that can be employed into everyday life.

Talking therapies are a mainstay for many mental health concerns, including anxiety. Several of the methods used in formal talking therapies can be adapted and learned as a form of self-help therapy without the assistance of a professional.[v] For example, CBT-inspired self-help strategies and techniques such as reframing helpful thoughts, tackling worries and facing fears can be practiced at home.

Complementary therapies or practices can be integrated into everyday life to either help ease mild anxiety symptoms or to help prevent anxiety altogether. For example, mindfulness can work well alongside yoga and hypnotherapy. Developing an awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours can help to break negative habits and improve self-esteem. vi,[vi]i

Lifestyle changes such as getting more sleep, eating a balanced diet, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and exercising can go a long way toward easing anxiety. For example, just 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week can significantly improve anxiety symptoms.[vii]i

Numerous de-stressing and mood-boosting apps are available to help reduce anxiety. A good place to start is the ‘Hub of Hope’ app – the UK’s leading mental health support database, which brings local, national, peer, community, charity, private and NHS mental health services together in one place. Some mild anxiety sufferers may also benefit from group discussions; organisations offering a range of resources include Anxiety UK, SANE and Mind.

Many people rely on herbs to help with mild to moderate mental health conditions, including anxiety, whilst avoiding the unwanted and negative side effects of medications. For example, studies have shown reductions in cortisol levels and anxiety following the use of ashwagandha.ix Lavender oil contains terpenes, such as linalool and linalyl acetate, which may have a calming effect on chemical receptors in the brain.ix,x Studies have shown that a daily capsule of pharmaceutical-quality lavender oil, found only in Kalms Lavender, is as effective as commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications such as lorazepam and paroxetine.xi, xii

If mild anxiety worsens or becomes disabling, the next step is seeking professional help in order to receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.

-Ends-


[i] Survey by Census Wide, commissioned by Lanes Health. Conducted on 3,726 Respondents – including 2,000 nationally representative respondents. October 2023.

[ii] Lanes Health. Empowerment in the Epidemic of Anxiety: Equipping patients and healthcare providers with the necessary tools and skills to manage mild anxiety. 2023.

[iii] The Guardian. UK has experienced ‘explosion’ in anxiety since 2008, study finds. September 2020. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/sep/14/uk-has-experienced-explosion-in-anxiety-since-2008-study-finds (Accessed: April 2023).

[iv] Mental Health UK. What is anxiety? Available at: https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/conditions/anxiety-disorders/what-is-anxiety/ (Accessed: April 2023).

[v] Mental Health UK. Treatments for anxiety disorders. Available at: https://mentalhealth-uk.org/help-and-information/conditions/anxiety-disorders/treatment/ (Accessed: May 2023).

[vi] Royal College of Psychiatrists. Hidden waits force more than three quarters of mental health patients to seek help from emergency services. October 2022. Available at: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/news-and-features/latest-news/detail/2022/10/10/hidden-waits-force-more-than-three-quarters-of-mental-health-patients-to-seek-help-from-emergency-services (Accessed: April 2023).

[vi]i Mind. Types of complementary and alternative therapies. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/complementary-and-alternative-therapies/types-of-complementary-and-alternative-therapies/#Hypnotherapy/ (Accessed: May 2023).

[vii]i Mayo Clinic. Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. September 2017. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495 (Accessed: May 2023).

ix Salve J, et al. Cureus. 2019;11(12):e6466.

x Malcolm BJ and Tallian K. Ment Health Clin. 2018;7(4):147–155.

xi Woelk H and Schläfke S. Phytomedicine. 2010;17(2):94–99.

xii Kasper S, et al. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014;17(6):859–869.

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Business

How Gen AI Opens a Whole New World for Dyslexic Individuals

Boris Krumrey, Global VP of Automations at UiPath

Growing up in 1970s West Berlin, I experienced a lack of attention from primary school teachers who were not equipped to address special needs for dyslexic children. While teachers were somewhat aware of conditions like dyslexia, they lacked the necessary training to support students like me. I vividly remember the disheartening moments of reading aloud, as other children would complain about my struggles, with the teachers choosing not to intervene. Writing assignments was even more demoralising, as the teacher looked at me with disappointment, regardless of the pressure I faced, as my spelling and handwriting showed no improvement.

Living with dyslexia can pose significant challenges in reading and writing, making self-expression daunting. However, new tools and technological developments are presenting exciting opportunities for workers who are neurodiverse or are living with learning difficulties.

Any traumatic experiences faced by dyslexic individuals often lead to deep disbelief in one’s abilities. Often simple tests such as identifying a series of numbers or words can frustrate people and even lead to misdiagnosis or failure to receive new opportunities. However, a new horizon of possibilities has emerged with the advent of generative artificial intelligence (Gen AI). Thanks to the content writing capabilities, data analysis and automation, Gen AI is poised to be an ideal tool for dyslexic individuals, empowering them to overcome writing obstacles and unlock their full creative potential.

Understanding the use cases

Gen AI can act as an important catalyst for a business on its automation journey, unlocking the door to a wealth of new opportunities. Technology, such as AI, can seem intimidating at first, but taking the first step to an intelligently automated business truly can improve efficiency and workplace experience dramatically for individuals.

Of course, before implementing AI solutions, it is important to understand the exact use cases and where they can be applied for many tasks. Looking first at enhancing writing efficiency, generative AI provides invaluable assistance in improving writing efficiency for dyslexic individuals. The technology offers real-time suggestions, corrections, and alternative phrasing as a reliable companion during the writing process. Dyslexic writers can focus on their ideas and thoughts while the AI refines the expression, eliminating the frustration caused by dyslexia-related writing challenges.

Predictive capabilities are perhaps one of the remarkable features of Gen AI. The ability to anticipate words and phrases, often aligning perfectly with the writers’ intentions has proven to be a real game changer. It significantly reduces the time and effort required to produce coherent and correctly written content, enhancing both speed and accuracy in the writing process.

Gen AI understands the unique challenges faced by dyslexic individuals, particularly in terms of visual perception. Dyslexia commonly involves difficulties accurately reading letters or words, resulting in visual confusion. The customisable features of AI can address this, for example, tailoring the text presentation to suit individual needs. It can also make the writing experience more accessible and enjoyable.

This all draws back to the essential principles of boosting confidence and self-expression among workers. The stigma surrounding learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, can negatively impact self-confidence, but Gen AI is the equivalent of a supportive partner, encouraging dyslexic writers to express themselves freely without the fear of judgement or misunderstanding. Providing real-time feedback and assistance instils an important sense of assurance, empowering individuals to embrace their unique voices and share their ideas with the world.

Spotlighting the human impact and AI limitations

The ways in which Gen AI can overhaul work should not be conflated with a testament to the decline of human intelligence and value in the workplace. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Workers with learning disabilities often let self-doubt block potential due to mistakes that they do not see among the wider pool of workers. This idea of being ‘other’ can distance workers for the wrong reasons. If AI can free workers of tasks that fuel self-doubt, they can apply their specialist skills and stop feeling as though they are being dragged down by perceived weaknesses. Gen AI is bringing out the human value to work more than some individuals might have ever believed.

However, as with every technology and human relationship, it is essential to analyse and limit possible negative impacts. Starting with language formulation, Gen  AI’s predictive capabilities and real-time suggestions can influence the language formulation process. While this can be beneficial for dyslexic individuals who struggle with word recall or spelling, there is a possibility AI’s suggestions may steer the writing towards a more standardised or conventional form. This may inadvertently dilute the writer’s authentic expression, altering their unique style or creative choices.

To mitigate this, AI usage should be selective and applied only to areas of struggle, such as sentence structure and spelling, letting creative flair do the rest. It’s also recommended that teams and dyslexic individuals retain manual reviewing and editing. This ensures they maintain control over the final product, making deliberate choices that align with their authentic voice and personal style.

Authenticity lies in embracing imperfections and unique qualities. Dyslexic learners can celebrate their distinct perspectives, creative approaches, and personal growth throughout their writing journey. Acknowledging and highlighting their individuality can create a genuine connection with their readers which is the core goal of any copy. Once the concerns about authenticity have been addressed, it is key to strike a balance that allows the AI to support and amplify their writing while maintaining the authenticity and genuine expression that make their work truly remarkable.

A powerful AI and human partnership

I once met a friend who struggled with dyslexia but had a talent for working with computers. He helped run his father’s real estate business, but when I asked him why he didn’t study computer science, he explained that his dyslexia made him worry about the amount of time he would have to spend debugging his code due to syntax errors.

As someone who studied computer science, I never fully appreciated the challenge dyslexic individuals face when it comes to coding. Computers are patient and tireless, always correcting mistakes as long as the user persists. However, with Gen AI, coding challenges for people with dyslexia can be immediately filtered out before compilation.

In the future, automation platforms like UiPath will integrate Gen AI into all tools that support intelligent automation for daily knowledge work. Dyslexia will no longer be a barrier to unleashing creativity.

Gen AI emerges as a transformative tool for dyslexic individuals, revolutionising the writing and coding experience. It empowers writers and developers to overcome the barriers imposed by dyslexia and unlock their full creative potential. By providing tailored support, boosting confidence, and facilitating effective communication, Gen AI ensures the written word becomes a playground for self-expression rather than a source of frustration. We should celebrate the union of technology and humanity as dyslexic individuals triumph over their writing challenges and share their remarkable stories with the world.

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Business

Testing, testing…the key to health tech triumph

By Chris Bradshaw, Strategy Director at Infinum  

 
Musicians prepare rigorously for successful performances through hours of practice and refinement. In the realm of direct-to-consumer health tech, achieving innovation also requires meticulous groundwork.

When executed effectively, direct-to-consumer solutions empower patients and caregivers, providing them with informed health choices and rapid access to medical insights. Nevertheless, growth brings its own set of challenges. When health tech products lack rigorous testing and design, they can result in user confusion, unreliable data, and even jeopardise patient safety.

Amidst the whirlwind of innovation in this field, a crucial aspect often gets overlooked – preparing for worst-case scenarios. To ensure both success and safety, it’s imperative to thoroughly investigate potential user issues prior to launch.

To excel in this field of innovation, keep these three essential components in mind: comprehensive testing, a user-centric approach, and strong privacy measures.

Testing, your products best friend

Just as rehearsals are the heart of a polished musical performance, comprehensive testing serves as the foundation for identifying and addressing potential issues in the early stages. 

By simulating various scenarios and user interactions, companies can understand how their products perform under different circumstances. A method that’s getting attention is sprint testing. It pushes the product’s long-term goals and ethical aspects to make sure the final product is strong, reliable, and safe. 

Running discovery sessions for any product is also critical to help predict and navigate potential problems, but it’s even more important in the health tech industry. Even more so when you’re working on direct business to consumer products, where the risks can increase significantly. 

In short, the lesson is test, test and test again. By investing time and resources into comprehensive testing, companies can avoid costly and potentially harmful issues after product launch. 

It’s also important to remember that testing doesn’t stop when the product or app is launched; it’s crucial to gather consistent feedback from users to improve the solution continuously. 

Strike the right cord with users

 Putting your end-users first is not just a catchphrase; it’s a fundamental principle to launch any product or service. At the same time, if you’ve engaged in rigorous testing and gathered feedback from users before launch, you’ll already be set up for success.  

For example, at Infinum, we worked to develop Cormeum, the smart heart-failure app. To validate some of our initial assumptions on what would work best, we trialed the prototype with real cardiac arrest patients and discovered they preferred larger visuals, a straightforward tone of voice, and a streamlined morning and evening tracking routine. 

 This allowed us to design a product that is easy and seamless to use, and empathises with users, understanding their needs, expectations and fears. This is critical in medical situations and helps ensure your product isn’t just meeting requirements, it instills confidence.  

 User-centric design goes beyond aesthetics—it’s about enhancing the user experience across the journey and customising it for specific needs. By integrating user feedback early on, companies can build products that deeply connect with their target audience.  

The importance of data privacy  

 It’s also important to remember that health tech should value patient data as much as a doctor does. As these technologies collect and manage personal health information extensively, the ethical responsibility to safeguard user data becomes even more crucial. A significant data breach can result not only in substantial financial losses but also harm to a company’s reputation.

Openness and clear communication about data usage and security measures can significantly reassure users about their information’s safety. Staying up to date with data protection regulations and implementing strong cybersecurity measures are essential for thwarting potential threats. A single breach can undo years of hard work and innovation.  

 An excellent case of emphasising data privacy from the beginning is Bloom Diagnostics, a health-tech company focused on at-home diagnostic tests. With Infinum’s assistance, they used strong encryption and secure storage methods to protect user health data, building a foundation of trust with their users. 

How to create a masterpiece

Health tech success requires a huge amount of planning and an unwavering commitment to testing and your end users, just as composing a masterpiece takes time and dedication. 

Done right, direct-to-consumer health tech has the potential to transform the entire healthcare industry, and in many ways, already is. 

 Businesses venturing on this journey aren’t alone; tech consultants can help get the process right. Together, real change is possible, transforming the lives of patients and healthcare staff for years to come. 

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