Death Row

Mortality Lower in Obesity After Surgery

People might literally be scared to death of obesity surgery. New data from the Swedish Patient registry for 48,693 patients with obesity found a mortality rate that was 3.7 times higher in just four years for the patients who did not have obesity surgery than for the patients who did. The authors, Christina Persson and colleagues, concluded:

This population-based cohort observational study indicates that the overall all-cause mortality is considerably lower among obese individuals who undergo bariatric surgery compared to non-surgical obese individuals, and the differences lies mainly in cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In light of these findings, it’s ironic that even people with severe obesity report that they will not consider obesity surgery primarily because they fear its risks. In a 2014 study conducted by ConscienHealth, we found 68% of individuals with self-reported class III obesity believed that bariatric surgery would not be appropriate for them, mostly because they think it is too risky.

Perceptions of the risk of bariatric surgery have complex origins. But the bias of medical professionals against both people with obesity and against medical or surgical treatment of the disease has been well documented.

Perhaps more recent data, including these data, will continue to nudge both doctors and people living with obesity toward a more realistic understanding of the benefits of medical and surgical care for obesity.

The devil you know – in this case living with untreated, severe obesity – is definitely worse than the risks of obesity surgery (the devil you don’t know).

Click here for more about the new mortality data presented last week at the European Obesity Summit by Persson et al. Click here for the abstract of their study.

Death Row, photograph © Craig Sunter / flickr

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June 5, 2016

One Response to “Mortality Lower in Obesity After Surgery”

  1. June 08, 2016 at 11:53 am, Allen Browne said:

    As a surgeon, I accept fear of surgery as a given. But, perhaps this study is more reason to pursue non-surgical weight loss techniques. Is it the surgery or the weight loss that is helping these people post op? Searching for more acceptable means to achieve a healthier weight might allow us to help more people.