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Weight Loss Surgery Can Help Whole Families: Study
Date:10/18/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- When one member of a family has bariatric surgery to lose weight, other family members may be more likely to shed a few pounds, a new study finds.

Researchers tracked the spouses, children and other family members living in the homes of 35 obese people who had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. The patients and their family members attended three educational sessions before the surgery, and several sessions after the surgery that emphasized dietary and lifestyle changes to lose weight. That included advice on following a high-fiber, low-fat and low-sugar diet; information on appropriate portion sizes; and the need to limit alcohol and TV watching while getting enough sleep and sufficient exercise.

One year after the surgery, obese patients had lost about a third of their body weight, dropping from an average of 295 pounds to 197 pounds.

At the same time, other family members seemed to reap benefits. About 60 percent of spouses and other adult family members who lived in the home (such as parents) were also obese before the surgery, while about 73 percent of the children were obese.

After one adult in the house underwent surgery -- most often, a woman -- the average weight of the other obese family members dropped by 8 pounds (from 234 pounds to 226). Their waistlines also shrank, on average, from 47 inches to 44 inches.

Weight gain for obese children also seemed to level off, although weight loss among non-obese family members was not statistically significant, the researchers noted.

Family members also reported getting more exercise, drinking less alcohol (from about 11 drinks to 1 drink per month), and experiencing less "uncontrollable eating" or "emotional eating," according to the study.

Prior research has found that obesity may have a "social contagion" aspect to it, with people significantly more likely to bec
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