White Americans who are obese are twice as likely as black Americans to have surgery to tackle the problem, a study has found.
Bariatric surgery is now recognised as a successful treatment for preventing serious complications of obesity such as diabetes and high blood pressure. The new study is one of the first to look at whether people who need surgery most are actually receiving it.
Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Imperial College London studied rates of bariatric surgery in the US from 1999 to 2010.
Twenty-two per cent of black women and 11 per cent of black men were eligible for bariatric surgery, compared with 12 per cent of white women and eight per cent of white men. But twice as many eligible white women and men than black women and men received bariatric surgery.
Differences in insurance coverage appeared to be partly responsible for the discrepancy: about 70 per cent of eligible white men and women had private health insurance compared with 50 per cent of black men and women.
"Bariatric surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment for moderate to clinically severe obesity and more importantly is has the benefit of successfully resolving or improving the important chronic conditions of diabetes and hypertension in the majority of cases," said Arch G. Mainous III, from the Medical University of South Carolina.
"Bariatric surgery can improve quality of life, decrease the risk of premature death, and lower disability and health-care costs. Consequently, this health disparity in treatment has implications for health care costs and morbidity due to common diseases like diabetes and hypertension, conditions that are highly prevalent in the African American community."
Dr Sonia Saxena, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "Our earlier research found that 45 per cent of overweight patients who regularly visited the doctor's office d
|Contact: Sam Wong|
Imperial College London