In 1991 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US recognized that non-surgical weight loss therapies such as calorie reduction (dieting), increasing physical exercise, behavioural therapy and medications often failed to achieve sustained weight loss in adults with severe obesity (BMI >40). These strategies often led to a weight loss/gain cycle that in turn led to a lot of frustrations and anxiety and at times depression.
The NIH declared weight loss surgery as the only effective treatment for severe obesity (BMI>40) and maintenance of weight loss in the long term.
Weight loss surgery when performed with multidisciplinary support can be an effective tool to achieve sustained weight loss and improvement in health.
Improvement in life expectancy
Large population studies have shown that adults with severe obesity who had weight loss surgery have a lower risk of death compared to adults with severe obesity who did not have weight loss surgery. The Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study also found that there was a >90% reduction in death due to diabetes and a >50% reduction in death due to heart disease in adults who had weight loss surgery compared to those who did not.
Improvement or resolution of comorbidities
The improvement in life expectancy that is seen in severely obese adults who had weight loss surgery is due to the significant improvement of resolution of obesity-related diseases.
These conditions include
- Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM),
- Sleep apnoea
- Liver disease and many more
Improvement in quality of life
Sustained surgical weight loss not only improves life expectancy and obesity-related diseases but also improves overall quality of life.
Improvements in physical mobility, self-esteem, self-confidence often accompany sustained weight loss. This can result in increased social interactions and improvement in employment opportunities. Depression and anxiety disorders are often significantly improved.