A new study published in an issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that individuals undergoing obesity surgery to reduce the size of their stomachs have a halved risk of death compared to others who were being treated with diet and lifestyle changes alone.
Obesity surgery has been hailed as cost-effective and most surgeons claim that more such surgeries need to be undertaken in the UK. Philip Greenland, co-author of the study added that thE study is not an impetus to push all obese patients towards bariatric surgery but it provides an extra support to the argument that this surgery might be a better and more cost-effective option.
The team of researchers compared the effects of bariatric surgery and those trying other methods of weight loss and looked at the long-term risk of death among obese individuals. A large population of participants was explored. Approximately 33,540 participants were included and of these 8,385 had one of the three types of bariatric surgery procedures performed between 2005 and 2014.
The three types of bariatric surgery included a roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy. They had all a Body Mass Index (BMI) of over 35. Obesity is defined as a BMI of over 30 kg/m2. These participants were all followed up for years after surgery up until December 2015 or the death of the participants, whichever was earlier.
They compared the parameters of each of these obese patients who underwent surgery with three obese patients who underwent non-surgical methods for reduction of weight. The results showed that death rate of the participants was 1.3% among those who had had some form of obesity surgery compared to 2.3% among those who had not had the surgery.
The team considered other factors such as age, sex and other diseases. In addition, those who had had the surgery also had a greater reduction of BMI compared to those who did not. Their other parameters such as blood pressure, blood sugar etc. was also under better control. New diagnosis of diabetes was also lower.
The limitations of the study according to the authors included the fact that this was an observational study and the patients were not randomized to surgery or non-surgery groups. This could be because the patients undergoing surgery were in poorer health.
Another small study also showed that bariatric surgery was beneficial for patients with diabetes by reducing blood sugar and other parameters. Here intensive diet control was tested against bariatric surgery. Results from 113 patients showed that they had better health parameters after the study started including more lost weight, better control of cholesterol, lower blood pressure and blood sugar.