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Weight Loss Surgery May Help Obese Seniors

New Studies Show Benefits of Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding Surgeries
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WebMD Health News

July 1, 2005 -- Three new studies show that weight loss surgery may help obese older adults.

The CDC says that 69% of Americans aged 65 and older were overweight or obese in 1999-2002.

As more people live longer, the number of obese seniors is likely to grow, say researchers Ricardo Cohen, MD, and Amna Daud, MD, MPH.

Cohen and Daud worked on two of the new studies. Their results were also presented in Orlando, Fla., at the American Society for Bariatric Surgery's annual meeting.

Researchers' Comments

Cohen and Daud spoke with WebMD about weight loss surgery for older obese adults.

"We can achieve excellent results with very low [illness] and [death] rates in these kinds of patients," says Cohen. He also says the surgery can "cure them of most problems that can occur due to obesity."

Daud says her findings were "very preliminary" and included a small number of people. From what she's seen so far, Daud says some seniors fared better after surgery than younger patients.

Gastric Bypass Study

Cohen and colleagues studied 108 obese people aged 60 and older who got gastric bypass surgery.

The operation reduces the stomach's size and bypasses part of the small intestine where food is absorbed.

Before the surgery, 73 patients had high blood pressure, 66 had type 2 diabetes, 19 had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and 12 had sleep apnea -- all obesity-related disorders.

Two years later, 46 patients were "cured" of high blood pressure and 51 of diabetes; all GERD and sleep apnea cases were "cured," say Cohen and colleagues.

They work at the Hospital Sao Camilo in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

'Good' Results, Obedient Patients

Patients had "good" long-term weight loss and obeyed doctors' orders, says Cohen.

"It's interesting to know that those elderly patients are more compliant," he tells WebMD.

"They don't miss follow-ups. They exercise. They're more mature in their decisions. So we can achieve good results in that kind of population," says Cohen.

Daud says older patients in her study were also more compliant than younger ones.

Gastric Banding Study

Daud's study included 45 people aged 60 and older. They got gastric bypass or adjustable gastric banding surgery.

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