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Even Modest Weight Loss Is Associated With Improved Health Status in Patients With Severe Obesity



sharma-obesity-applesThe title of this post may sound like a “no-brainer”, but the research literature on the long-term health benefits of weight loss from longitudinal intervention studies in people with severe obesity is much thinner than most people would expect.

Thus, a new study from our group, that looks at the relationship between changes in body weight and changes in health status over two years in patients with severe obesity enrolled in the Alberta Population-based Prospective Evaluation of the Quality of Life Outcomes and Economic Impact of Bariatric Surgery (APPLES) study, published in OBESITY, may well be of considerable interest.

As described previously, APPLES is a 500-patient cohort study in which consecutive, consenting adults with BMI levels > 35 kg/m2 were recruited from the Edmonton Adult Bariatric Specialty Clinic. The 500 patients enrolled were between 18 and 60 years old and were either wait-listed (n=150), beginning intensive medical treatment (n=200) or had just been approved for bariatric surgery (n=150). Complete follow-up data at 24 months was available for over 80% of participants.

At study enrollment, the proportion of patients who reported >2 and >3 chronic conditions was 95.4% and 85.8%, respectively. The most common single chronic conditions at baseline were joint pain (72.2%), anxiety or depression (65.4%), hypertension (63.4%), dyslipidemia (60.4%), diabetes mellitus (44.6%), gastrointestinal reflux disease (35.4%), and sleep apnea (33.5%).

After 2 years, just over 50% of participants had maintained a weight loss > 5%, with a mean weight change for the entire cohort of about 13 kg.

Losing > 5% weight was associated with an almost 2-fold increased likelihood of reporting a reduction in multimorbidity at 2-year follow-up, whereby outcomes varied between treatment groups: in the surgery group, the top three chronic conditions that decreased in prevalence over follow-up were sleep apnea (43% at baseline vs. 25% at 2 years,), dyslipidemia (60% vs. 47%), and anxiety or depression (59% vs. 47%); in the medically treated group anxiety or depression (69% vs. 57%) and joint pain (77% vs. 67%); and none in the wait-listed group.

As expected, any reduction in multimorbidity was associated with a clinically important improvement in overall health status.

In summary, this paper not only documents the considerable multimorbidity associated with severe obesity, it also documents the clinically important improvement in health status associated even with a rather modest 5% weight loss over 2 years in these individuals.

@DrSharma
Edmonton, AB

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