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Weight Loss Surgery Saves Lives

Research Shows Fewer Deaths From Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Cancer

Weight Loss Surgery vs. Dieting

The second study involved just over 4,000 severely obese patients, half of whom were treated with weight loss surgery and the other half with either no treatment or nonsurgical weight loss interventions like dieting.

Ten years later, weight loss among the surgery patients averaged 14% to 25%, compared with less than 2% among the nonsurgery patients.

During the follow-up, 129 deaths occurred among nonsurgery patients, compared with 101 deaths among the surgery group. The number of heart attack deaths were lower in the surgery group (13 vs. 25), as were cancer deaths (29 vs. 47).

Researcher Claude Bouchard, PhD, of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center, tells WebMD that the two studies prove that weight loss surgery is a lifesaving option for severely obese patients.

Consensus Conference Needed

Bray agrees that weight loss surgery may prove to be a more important weapon in the battle against obesity and obesity-related disease than any previous intervention.

But he says the benefits and risks of modern approaches to weight loss surgery must be examined before the indications for the surgery are expanded.

He is calling for a national conference to address the matter. The last such conference was held in 1991.

"A lot has happened since then, he says. "Laparoscopic surgery has all but replaced the open surgery -- and surgical mortality rates have declined as a result. But there are unanswered questions about which patients will benefit most from this surgery."

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