IBM has invented a hormonal switch to control obesity

Obesity is a pandemic. Over the last decade, the prevalence of diabetes has followed the obesity trend. Currently, the cost of providing medical care and treatment to obese and diabetic patients is costly, at more than $100 billion per year.

Recently, Jamie Oliver said that obesity poses a greater threat to the UK than ISIS.

A variety of obesity treatments exist. However, noninvasive treatments, such as medications, can generally only induce less than a 10% reduction in weight. Thus, these noninvasive treatments have largely failed. While invasive treatments, such as bariatric surgery, are more effective in inducing a substantially greater weight loss, they are nonetheless risky and costly.


IBM has invented a non-invasive technique that controls appetite. Basically, the technique induces a hormonal response using sound waves. The sound waves travel through an individual’s skin, surrounding tissues, and induce vibration of gastrointestinal organs, in resonance with the frequency of the sound waves. The vibrations stimulate glands to regulate production of hormones, such as leptin, gherlin, cholecystokinin (CCK), and pancreatic peptide YY3-36 (PYY3-36). The hormones then regulate food intake by affecting the brain and by interacting with or binding to adjunct cells.


Further, the vibrations can be macroscopic or microscopic organ or tissue excitations, which then indirectly induce other hormonal changes. The vibrations can indirectly induce neural stimulation, for example stimulation of the vagus nerve. Vagus nerve stimulation induces a feeling of fullness or satiety.

Patent Information
Publication number: US 20160310354
Patent Title: Acoustic Stimulation For The Prevention And Treatment Of Obesity
Publication date: 27 Oct 2016
Filing date: 27 Apr 2015
Inventors: Amos Cahan
Original Assignee: International Business Machines Corporation