Is Surgery an Option for Mildly Obese?
Study Shows Surgery That Uses Adjustable Band May Be Effective
May 1, 2006 -- Most weight
loss surgeries are performed on patients who are morbidly obese, but
new research suggests that one surgical option may be a safe and effective
treatment for people who have much less weight to lose.
The study compared outcomes among mild to moderately obese people who either
had laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery or who followed an
intensive weight loss program that did not include surgery.
In this surgery, an adjustable band was placed around the stomach via small
incisions in the abdominal wall with the use of a special camera to help place
After two years, patients who had the gastric banding lost an average of 21%
(45 pounds) of their initial body weight, compared to a 5.5% (12 pounds) weight
reduction among patients whose intervention included strict calorie
restriction, weight loss drugs, and other lifestyle interventions.
If confirmed, the findings could lead to a major shift in thinking about who
is and is not a candidate for weight loss surgery, the study researchers
"It won't happen overnight," Paul E. O'Brien, MD, tells WebMD.
"But in the United States alone you have 60 million people who are [mildly
obese or heavier] and they suffer a wide range of health problems because of
their weight. This is a very safe surgery that could be used to help many more
What's in a BMI?
The researchers measured obesity by calculating the
patients' body mass index (BMI), a
standardized measure based on height and weight.
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight. People are considered
overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9, and obese if they have a BMI of 30 or
A BMI of 40 or more is considered morbidly obese. To translate BMI to the
- A 5-foot-4-inch person would be considered overweight if they tip the scale
at 175 pounds (BMI = 30), obese if they weigh 205 pounds (BMI = 35), and
morbidly obese if they weigh more than 235 pounds (BMI = 40).
- Someone who is 5 foot 7 inches and weighs 190 pounds would be considered
overweight, while the same person would be considered obese at 194 pounds, and
morbidly obese at 255 pounds.
- A 6-foot tall person is considered overweight if they weigh between 185 and
221 pounds, obese if they weigh between 222 and 294 pounds, and morbidly obese
at 295 plus.
- Carrying 30 to 35 extra pounds is the difference between normal weight and
obesity for most adults.
'Obesity Gray Zone'
People with BMIs of between 30 and 35 are generally considered to be mild to
moderately obese, and are not often considered for weight loss surgery.
O'Brien refers to this as the "obesity gray zone."