Families Benefit from Bariatric Surgery

A study, published in the Archives of Surgery, found that family members of gastric bypass patients also experience improvements in their health after surgery. The study was conducted by researchers at Stanford University and was made up of 35 patients, 35 adult family members and 15 children. The researchers recorded metrics, such as weight and exercise and eating habits, prior to surgery and then again a year after the patient had gastric-bypass surgery. Prior to the surgery, many of the patients’ family members were also obese – 60% of the adult family members and 73% of the kids.

The researchers found that after a year, the obese adult family members shed on average 3.4% of their body weight which compares with what would be expected in structured diet programs. The adult family members also reported having better control over their eating habits, with less emotional eating and less alcohol consumption. The obese children had lower Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) than expected based on their previous weight gain. Additionally, family members of all ages and BMIs reported participating in more physical activity.

Dr. John Morton, study author and Director of Bariatric Surgery at Stanford School of Medicine spoke to us about his study, and explained that obesity is often a shared disease: “As bariatric surgeons, we are all aware that obesity is a family disease and that we often see collateral benefit following bariatric surgery. This study helps to quantify the halo effect of bariatric surgery with family members having weight loss, increased physical activity and better health behaviors. Family members can mutually reinforce each other–the family that eats together, stays together,” Morton concluded.

Even modest weight loss has been shown to have health benefits, such as improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars. Losing just 5-10% of  total body weight can result in improvements in energy levels, physical mobility,  mood, and even libido.

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