Medic: Stomach reduction usually extends life

How does bariatric surgery affect the risk of premature death?

According to a recent study, if obese patients undergo gastric reduction surgery, they have only half the risk of death in the following years compared to people who reduce their weight solely through diet and changed behavior.

The researchers at Northwestern University found in their investigation that obese patients have a significantly lower risk of dying after surgery compared to people who only change their diet and behavior. The doctors published the results of their study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Should every obese person undergo surgery?

Obesity surgery is very cost-effective, leads to significant weight loss, and can help fight type 2 diabetes, the experts claim. For example, some British surgeons even believe that such operations are not adequately performed in the UK. However, the results are insufficient to conclude that all obese patients should undergo such an operation, says author Philip Greenland. A so-called gastric balloon could help sufferers to lose weight without surgery, the doctor adds.

Experts examined more than 33,500 subjects

The new study was designed to determine whether gastric reduction surgery has long-term effects on the risk of death in overweight people compared to non-surgical weight loss methods. A total of more than 33,500 participants were involved in the study, of which 8,385 received one of three types of so-called bariatric surgery between 2005 and 2014. The majority of participants had a BMI greater than 35. Obesity is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.

Effects of the operation on the risk of death

The researchers monitored participants in the years after their surgery until death or until the end of the follow-up period in December 2015. The results were then compared to obese patients who had not received surgery. The study found that the death rate during the study in patients with some form of bariatric surgery was 1.3 percent. If the participants had no surgery, the risk was 2.3 percent.

Operated participants had various health benefits

Once other factors such as age, gender, and related illnesses were taken into account, the researchers found that participants without surgery had slightly more than twice the risk of premature death compared to operated participants. In addition, the subjects in the operated group experienced a greater drop in BMI, lower rates of new diagnoses of diabetes, improved blood pressure and a larger proportion of diabetics who went into remission.

Operated participants decreased after one year

Another smaller study, which was also published in the journal "JAMA", compared diabetes-related markers in obese adults who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for an average of nine years. The advantages of bariatric surgery were particularly examined. The participants either received intensive nutrition, exercise and medical care for two years, or they underwent additional surgery. The results from 113 participants showed that operated patients lost more weight one year after the start of the study. (as)

Author and source information

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