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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


  1. Like every piece of research having to do with weight loss surgery, I find myself wishing for a ten-year follow up with 100% participation.

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  2. It’s not uncommon for parents and siblings of children that come to our pediatric clinic to report improvements in weight & health status across all family members who are adopting lifestyle changes together!

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  3. This study shows a nurture subset that exsist within soceity. The perants who have had bariatric surgery often eat less and do less grazing than the other obese parents as the children see this behavior they are far more likely to copy the behavior seen.
    This is much like the children of addicts they either hate the thought of addiction or follow in the footsteps of the addicted parent. The review of surgery patiants was only used to backup this thery. Parents who over eat often use large portions sizes and pass the large servings on to there children.

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