The study also included two control groups. One control group had 417 people who had considered surgery, but didn't have it. The other control group had 321 randomly selected severely obese people who hadn't considered weight loss surgery.
In gastric bypass surgery, doctors divide the stomach into two sections and connect the small top section, or pouch, to the small intestine. Because the pouch can only hold a small amount of food, the body absorbs fewer calories.
In the United States, where one-third of adults are obese and at risk of serious weight-related health problems, weight loss surgery is becoming increasingly common.
"The study showed that gastric bypass led to durable weight loss and a durable impact on health conditions," said Courcoulas.
Surgery may not be for everyone, however. "Patients should talk to their physicians and focus on the risks of their current health problems, as well as future health risks and weigh those with the risks of surgery," said Adams. Lifestyle adjustments, such as diet modification and physical activity, should be a foundation for any change people want to make.
Two other studies, also in the current issue of JAMA, looked at different aspects of weight loss surgery, including gastric bypass and banding procedures. One study, conducted in Sweden, compared long-term health costs of slightly more than 2,000 obese people who underwent bariatric surgery and a similar number of age-matched obese people who did not have surgery (the control group).
After 20 years, the surgical group had an average weight loss of 18 percent of body weight compared to just 1 percent in the control group. In terms of actual weight, it was a difference of about 44 pounds. The researchers found that in the six years following surgery, the surgical patients used more inpatient and outpatient care. But, during years seven through 20, those who underwent surgery h
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