40-Year Study Finds that Weight Loss Surgery Significantly Lowers Premature Death Risk

40-Year Study Finds that Weight Loss Surgery Significantly Lowers Premature Death Risk

According to a 40-year study that included 22,000 people who underwent bariatric surgery in Utah, the procedure is able to significantly reduce the risk of premature death, especially when caused by conditions linked to obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

The research concluded that when compared to people of similar weight, those who underwent one of four total types of weight loss surgeries, were 16 percent less likely to pass away of any cause.

As for early deaths from cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other obesity related diseases, the decrease was even more significant.

Ted Adams, the lead author, says that “Deaths from cardiovascular disease decreased by 29 percent, while deaths from cancers decreased by 43 percent, which is pretty impressive. There was also a massive percentage drop — a 72 percent decline — in deaths associated with diabetes in people who had surgery when compared to those who did not.”

The study was published in the Obesity journal earlier this week and seems to confirm earlier research, including another long-term, 10 year study from Sweden.

According to a professor of medicine by the name of Eduardo Grunvald, the study found a significant reduction in premature deaths and that many of the participants entered diabetes remission at the 2 years and 10 years marks after surgery.

Grunvald, who also co-authored the new obesity treatment guidelines by the American Gastroenterological Association, says that “This research from Utah is just more evidence that people that undergo such procedures have positive, beneficial long-term outcomes.”

The association encourages obese people to use the newly approved weight loss medication or surgery along with changing their lifestyle for the better.

“And the key is for patients to know that changing their diets becomes more natural and easier to do after having bariatric surgery or taking the new weight loss medications . While we do not yet fully understand why, these interventions do change the chemistry in our brains, making it much easier to change a diet afterward,” Grunvald stated.

Unfortunately, however, in spite of the undeniable benefits of bariatric surgery, only about 2 percent of obese patients get it.

As per Dr. Caroline Apovian, a Harvard Medical School medicine professor, this is more often than not a result of social stigma.

After all, insurance tends to cover the costs for those with a BMI of 40 and over, or 35 if they already suffer from related conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

“I see patients with a BMI of 50, and invariably I say, ‘You are a candidate for everything — medication, diet and exercise and also surgery.’ And many tell me, ‘Do not talk to me about surgery. I do not want it.’ They do not want a surgical solution to what society’s told them is a failure of willpower,” Dr. Apovian stated.


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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