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Surgery vs Lifestyle Change

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 Posted by Travis Saunders
Just a short post today as it's the end of the semester here at Queen's which means that Peter and I have a lot of exams to mark! However, before I get started on the marking I wanted to share an interesting paper that was published on the International Journal of Obesity website earlier this week by Dr DS Bond at Brown University. In it, Dr Bond and colleagues compare weight-loss maintanance in individuals who lost > 10% of body weight using using either surgical (e.g. gastric bypass) or non-surgical (e.g. diet and exercise) interventions. Although both groups regained a similar amount of weight (~1kg over the first year, and ~ 5kg over the second year), their lifestyles during the weight-maintenance period were markedly different. The non-surgical weight-loss group ate breakfast more often and fast food less often, and performed drastically more total, medium and high-intensity physical activity than the surgical weight-loss group. In fact, only a third of the surgical weight loss group met their daily recommended physical activity goals, compared with 60% in the non-surgical weight loss group.

We know that for a given level of obesity, increased physical activity levels are associated with reduced disease risk. Even though both groups had similar success in maintaining their weight loss, it is possible that the non-surgical group is experiencing a greater improvement in metabolic health due to their increased level of physical activity. Unfortunately Dr Bond and colleagues do not report on metabolic risk factors (e.g. insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, plasma triglycerides, etc) in either group, so this question remains unanswered for the time being. However, these results do suggest that individuals who lose weight using non-surgical interventions are more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle choices during the weight-maintenance period than those who lose weight by surgical means.

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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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