Does Bariatric Surgery Rub Off On Families?

Readers may recall previous posts on how the risk of obesity in offspring of mothers, who undergo surgery prior to conception, is dramatically reduced.

That is not what this post is about.

Rather, a study by Woodard and colleagues from Stanford University, just published in the Archives of Surgery, suggests that there may be a positive ‘collateral’ effect on body weight and lifestyle in family members of patients undergoing bariatric surgery.

Thus, an analysis of 35 adult family members (60% of who were obese) and 15 children (73% of who were obese) of 35 patients who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, showed significant weight loss or less weight gain than expected in the adult family members and kids, respectively.

This weight loss in family members was associated with increased daily physical activity levels, improved eating habits, less emotional eating and reduced alcohol consumption.

Thus, it appears that undergoing bariatric surgery well may have substantial beneficial effects on the health of other family members – both partners and kids.

Although I have heard this anecdotally from some of my patients, I wonder if others have made similar observations in their patients.

I also wonder how such findings would be reflected in health-economic assessments of bariatric surgery.

Edmonton, Alberta

Woodard GA, Encarnacion B, Peraza J, Hernandez-Boussard T, & Morton J (2011). Halo effect for bariatric surgery: collateral weight loss in patients’ family members. Archives of surgery (Chicago, Ill. : 1960), 146 (10), 1185-90 PMID: 22006878