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Bariatric Surgery Study continued...

At the 8-year mark, 80 participants, all women, were still taking part in the study. Of those, 47, or 59%, had achieved an excess weight loss of 50% or more, considered successful.

At the end of the follow-up, researchers also found:

  • Fifty-three patients or 67% had a BMI under 40; 16 or 20% had shifted from the obesity category to overweight. One woman achieved a normal BMI, under 25.
  • The average daily calorie intake went from 2,355 at the study start to 1,680 for the 80 participants who finished the study.
  • Younger women were more likely to maintain the successful weight loss.

Eating Problems Continue in Half of Patients

Despite the overall success, Kruseman found that 41 women or 51% had binge eating or night eating syndrome. This points to the need for continued follow-up, she says, with attention given to eating behaviors.

''To my patients who ponder the operation, I ask them to think about their expectations," she says. "It is a very invasive intervention and it has apparently good results, but only on weight. There is no guarantee that their whole life will improve after the operation."

Follow-up Care Important

The weight loss results of the new study are in line with other studies, says John Baker, MD, president of the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery and director of the medical weight loss program at Baptist Health in Little Rock, Ark., who reviewed the study for WebMD.

"It's not surprising, the fact that patients still had eating disorder issues," he says. "The surgery doesn't correct those things."

"This [study] is emphasizing the importance of aftercare and allowing the patients access to aftercare," he tells WebMD. That care should include dietary instructions and psychological help to deal with any eating issues, he says.

Another expert says the study results confirm the idea that bariatric surgery requires a long-term commitment by the patient and health care providers. ''The consequences of bariatric surgery can change as patients move through active weight loss to some weight gain," says Trina Histon, PHD, director of the Weight Management Initiative at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif.

''Patients need various check-ins over the years to ensure they are maintaining optimal care," she says. That way, health care providers can pick up on early warning signs of issues that warrant attention, she says.

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