'Balloon belly' diet trend is a big fat fraud

Get rich quick and lose weight fast. The two have a lot in common: Most of the schemes that promise one or the other are terrible.

Now, the FDA has just approved the latest mainstream medicine "get rich quick" scheme, and it's a "lose weight fast" treatment that's about as dumb as they come.

During the procedure they literally shove a pair of inflatable bags down your throat and into your stomach. Then pump the bags up with saline so your belly stays full and you eat less. Called the ReShape Dual Balloon, they're basically like artificial breasts, only in your stomach.

You're supposed to walk around inflated like a beach ball -- except one filled with saline -- for six months.

And a lot can go wrong in six months.

The reason there are two bags instead of one is the risk of a burst is very real. If a single bag splits, in addition to giving you a belly full of saline, it can slide down into your intestinal track and cause a dangerous or even potentially deadly blockage as happened with a similar device in the 80s.

By tying two bags together, the one that stays full can stop the one that popped from slipping into your digestive tract.

If they both burst, however, you're out of luck -- so you might want to avoid swallowing anything pointy or with hard edges, like tortilla chips or pretzel sticks.

Folks who have these balloons inserted have also experienced pain, ulcers, indigestion, frequent vomiting and more. And in some cases, just the process of inserting and removing them can cause a dangerous tear in the esophagus.

The FDA approval also warns of the risk of heart attack, infection and severe allergic reaction.

With all those risks, this must to be the best weight-loss scheme ever created for anyone to ever consider it.

But it's not.

With this balloon inside your gut, you can expect to lose a little more than an extra pound a month.

That's it.

Patients who had the balloons inserted lost less than 15 pounds on average over six months, and then quickly regained nearly 5 of them when the balloons were removed.

They regained the weight because the balloon doesn't teach you how to eat right or eat better. It just forces you to eat less for a short period of time, and that's a recipe for failure.

So treat this and any other tempting "lose weight fast" plans the way you'd treat a "get rich quick" scheme and steer clear. Focus on learning to eat better instead -- because once you do, you'll not only have everything you need to lose weight.

You'll have what it takes to keep it off, too.