Success from Weight Loss Surgery Improved With Family Member Support

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A new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery has found that when two people from the same family, such as a husband and wife, parent and child or two siblings, have bariatric (weight loss) surgery together, they shed more pounds than when they go it alone.

Dr. Gus Slotman, clinical professor of surgery at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, compared 91 patients who had undergone gastric bypass surgery with a family member to an equal number of control patients matched in age, gender and body mass index (BMI) who had the surgery alone. All surgeries were performed at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center.

Read: Predictions for the Future of Bariatric Surgery

During weigh-ins at six months, one year, and two years, Dr. Slotman determined that those who had surgery with a family member lost 86% of their excess weight, while those who did it on their own lost about 60%.

Those with the most success were siblings who had surgery together. “Clearly sibling rivalry can play an important role in patient success,” says Dr. Slotman.

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In addition, those who had surgery as a team found their diabetes resolved 65% of the time, compared to 31%, and high blood pressure went down to normal in 60% of the cases, compared to 33% of the people undergoing surgery alone.

“Family members are a built in support system that can turn a good result into a great result, particularly during the first year after surgery when people are having to dramatically change what they eat and adjust to a new lifestyle,” says Dr. Slotman.

Read: Post Surgical Care Critical to Optimal Weight Loss After Bariatric Surgery

The difference is the encouragement people get from a family member who is sympathetic. Life after weight loss surgery involves drastic changes to eating and other lifestyle habits, and those who are experiencing the changes themselves can provide greater support and encouragement.

The theory can be expanded to those losing weight through other means as well. Prior research has shown that having an exercise partner helps people stick to their workout regimen better. Also, when a caregiver who does the cooking and shopping goes on a weight loss diet, the rest of the family tends to eat more healthfully and lose weight as well.

According to the ASMBS, more than 15 million Americans are considered morbidly obese and in 2009 approximately 220,000 had some form of bariatric surgery.

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