Weight-Loss Surgery May Improve Quality of Life
What is the problem and what is known about it so far?
People who are very overweight are more likely to have serious health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol problems, and sleep problems, all of which can lead to heart and blood vessel disease. Weight-loss surgery (also called bariatric surgery) is an option for some people who have been unable to lose weight through diet and exercise. Studies have shown that surgery can have lasting weight loss effects, can reduce health risks, and can improve a person’s daily life. However, weight-loss surgery can also lead to complications and mental health problems. Whether a person’s quality of life is better or worse after having weight-loss surgery is unknown.
Why did the researchers do this particular study?
The researchers wanted to learn more about whether people who have weight-loss surgery have better or worse quality of life after surgery.
Who was studied?
The study looked at 236 obese people who had considered weight-loss surgery. Some of them had the surgery and some did not.
How was the study done?
All participants had their quality of life measured when they were considering weight-loss surgery. Researchers mailed follow-up surveys to all the participants.
What did the researchers find?
There were no differences in quality of life between the two groups at the start of the study. People who had the surgery had much better quality of life later on than people who did not have the surgery. The improvement in their quality of life depended on how much weight they lost and also on their overall mental and physical health. Those who had the surgery reported that they were better able to function in daily life and to get exercise than those who did not have surgery.
What were the limitations of the study?
The study used a single measurement of quality of life at the beginning and a more detailed survey of quality of life for follow-up. Better comparisons could have been made if they had measured quality of life the same way at the beginning of the study and at follow-up. Also, many people did not complete follow-up surveys. Those who did complete surveys may have been healthier than those who did not. In addition, different people completed their follow-up surveys at different times. Because weight loss is gradual, those completing the survey closer to the time of their surgery may have had different feelings than those who completed the survey after more time had passed. Finally, this study only looked at very overweight patients who were eligible for one type of surgery, called a Roux-en-Y bypass. The results may not be the same for people who are less overweight or considering other types of weight-loss surgery.
What are the implications of the study?
Most severely overweight patients have a better quality of life after weight-loss surgery. The long-term benefits of weight-loss surgery seem to outweigh the risks of complications and mental health issues after surgery. A complete weight-loss program that includes good follow-up to address complications and mental health issues is important for all severely overweight patients. More study is needed to compare the long-term risks, benefits, and costs of weight-loss surgery.
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