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The Belly Fat Burden: Reducing Your Waist Circumference

When diet and exercise aren't helping you lose belly fat, medications and surgery may do the job.
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Bariatric Surgery: Belly Fat's Last Resort continued...

One study looked at 197 obese people who underwent gastric bypass surgery. It compared their weight loss and risk factors to a similar group of obese patients who did not have the procedure. Everyone was on a strict diet and exercise program to help them lose weight.

At the end of three years, there were striking differences. The surgery group lost an average of 77 pounds, while the others barely lost any weight. Also, LDL cholesterol levels dropped 40 points, body mass index dropped 15 points, and 19% fewer people had diabetes. Their need for cholesterol-lowering medication dropped by 61%, too.

Another study investigated gastric surgery for mild-to-moderately obese people. In this surgery, patients had an adjustable band placed around the opening of the stomach, creating a small pouch. After two years, patients who had the gastric banding lost an average of 21% (45 pounds) of their body weight. The other group lost 5.5% (12 pounds) via strict calorie restriction, weight loss drugs, and other lifestyle interventions.

New research is showing that gastric bypass surgery also has a dramatic impact on the hormones that drive hunger. A study of nine morbidly obese patients found that, just six weeks after surgery, secretions of the hunger-reducing hormones peptide YY(PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) were significantly altered. These hormones have been shown to play a role in appetite control by signaling the body that it is no longer hungry after meals.

Bariatric surgery has indeed shown impressive results, Eisenson says, adding that the procedure is safer and more effective than most of us realize. "I'm pretty envious of the results that can be achieved pretty quickly. It can profoundly reduce health risks related to obesity.

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Reviewed on June 30, 2007
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