Weight Loss Surgery Most Effective with a Relative

Weight loss surgery is more effective when done with a spouse or relative, according to a new study.

A new study released at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery last month found that patients who have weight loss surgery as the same time as a family member are more likely to have better results than patients having the surgery alone.

Researchers followed 91 patients who underwent bariatric surgery with a parent, sibling, child, spouse, close relative or in-law and compared them to a group of patients who had surgery alone. Patients in the second group were matched for age, gender and body mass index (BMI) with those who had obesity surgery with a family member.

The study showed that a year after the surgery, subjects who had gastric bypass with a family member lost 30 percent more weight than those who did it by themselves. The difference was the greatest for siblings, who lost 40 percent more weight.

Why did siblings have the most weight loss? Lead author Dr. Gus Slotman of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, said sibling rivalry likely has much to do with the positive outcomes. Overall, having family support can make it easier for patients adjust to a new lifestyle and eating habits after surgery, he said.

Patients who had surgery together not only benefited from higher weight loss numbers, but also more health improvements overall. According to the study, a year after the surgery diabetes was resolved in 65 percent of patients who made their gastric bypass a family affair, compared to 31 percent who didn’t. In addition, 60 percent of study subjects who had gastric bypass surgery with a family member saw their high blood pressure return to normal, compared to 33 percent of those who had surgery alone.

Dr. Slotman noted that the support and encouragement a person receives from a family member who is going through the same thing is the main difference between the two outcomes. Encouragement and shared experiences with a spouse or relative makes it easier for patients to maintain good eating habits to keep the weight loss going and can even turn a good result into a great result, he said.