Halo Effect From Gastric Bypass Helps the Whole Family

Jim Kling

October 20, 2011

October 20, 2011 — When an obese person undergoes gastric bypass surgery, family members may also lose weight and adopt healthier habits, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Children with obese parents are more likely to also be obese, and childhood obesity is strongly associated with being obese as an adult. There is also evidence that gastric bypass surgery can indirectly affect the weight of children: One study showed that children of obese mothers were 52% less likely to be obese if they were born after she underwent the surgery compared with children born before the surgery.

To investigate the effect of gastric bypass surgery on family members, a team led by John Morton, MD, MPH, from the Stanford University School of Medicine, California, conducted a prospective, longitudinal, multidimensional study collecting data both before Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery and 1 year after the surgery.

The study ran from January 1, 2007, through December 31, 2009, and was conducted at an academic bariatric center. It included 85 participants (35 patients, 35 adult family members, and 15 children younger than 18 years). Of the adult family members of the surgery recipients, 60% were obese prior to the procedure, as were 73% of the children of the patients. Surgery was combined with dietary and lifestyle counseling.

After 12 months, the researchers observed a weight loss in adult family members, from a mean of 234 pounds to a mean of 226 pounds (P = .01). Children of patients trended toward lower body mass indices, from 31.2 kg/m2 (expected, based on growth projections) to 29.6 kg/m2 observed (P = .07). The researchers also noted an increase in daily activity levels among adult and child family members, as measured by the Seven-Day Physical Activity Recall questionnaire, from 8 to 17 metabolic equivalent task–hours (equivalent to consuming 1 kcal/kg body weight/hour; P = .005), and from 13 to 22 metabolic equivalent task–hours (P = .04), respectively.

Eating habits, as measured by the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, also improved among adult family members, including a reduction in uncontrollable eating (from a score of 35 to 28; P = .01), a reduction in emotional eating (from 36 to 28; P = .04), and a reduction in alcohol consumption (from 11 drinks per month to 1 drink per month; P = .009).

"This study demonstrates that performing a gastric bypass operation on 1 patient has a halo of positive effect on the weight, eating habits, activity levels, and health behaviors of the entire family," the authors conclude.

The study was supported by the Medical Scholars Program from Stanford School of Medicine. The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Arch Surg. 2011;10:1185-1190. Abstract

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