Obesity Surgery May Work Better Than Diet

Diabetes, Cholesterol, Quality of Life Improve With Bariatric Surgery

From the WebMD Archives

June 15, 2004 -- Looking for serious weight loss? Surgery may be the answer. By restricting the size of the stomach, surgery offers three times the weight loss compared with a medically supervised diet, new research shows.

LAP-BAND bariatric surgery involves placing an adjustable gastric band around the upper part of the stomach. It creates a small stomach pouch that holds about 1 tablespoon of food and a small narrowing to the rest of the stomach. The small pouch helps control a person's sense of fullness and how much he or she is able to eat -- thereby controlling appetite, which results in weight loss.

Few studies have compared the safety and effectiveness of bariatric surgery with a very low caloric diet, medication, and exercise regimen for weight loss in obese people.

But a group of Australian researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery being held in San Diego this week.

The study "confirms that in appropriate patients, weight loss surgery has clear benefits over traditional medical therapy," says researcher Paul O'Brien, MD, of the Centre of Obesity Research and Education in Melbourne, Australia, in a news release.

His study involved 79 mild to moderately obese patients (BMI 30-35) who had either the LAP-BAND surgery or a medically prescribed diet of fewer than 800 calories, medication, and exercise plan.

During the two-year follow-up:

  • The surgery group lost 67% of their excess weight.
  • The surgery patients showed greater improvement in type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and quality of life.
  • The diet/exercise group lost 17% excess weight initially -- but then regained it.

This study shows that bariatric surgery for mild to moderate obesity is safe and significantly more effective than optimal medical therapy for weight loss and improving health and quality of life, says O'Brien.

SOURCE: News release, American Society for Bariatric Surgery.

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