Weight Loss After Gastric Bypass Differed by Race

Gastric bypass led to more weight loss than vertical sleeve gastrectomy but racial disparity found in outcomes after gastric bypass

(RxWiki News) Weight loss surgery has been proving successful for many people. However, one type of weight loss surgery, called gastric bypass, has been slightly more successful for a certain race.

On average, non-Hispanic white people lost slightly more weight after gastric bypass surgery than Hispanics or non-Hispanic blacks, a new study found.

"Talk to your surgeon about what to expect after gastric bypass."

This study was led by Karen J. Coleman, PhD, of the Department of Research and Education at Kaiser Permanente Southern California in Pasadena.

The researchers reviewed the health records of patients in Southern California who had bariatric (weight loss) surgery between 2004 and May 2013. Patients were followed after surgery for about three years.

Southern California has a diverse population, and the researchers wanted to see if bariatric surgery was successful for people from different backgrounds. They were also interested in learning if success rates were similar depending on the type of surgery.

Bariatric surgery is only offered when all other weight loss strategies have failed and usually only for those who are at least 100 pounds overweight.

Gastric bypass surgery is presently the most common weight loss surgery in the United States. During this operation, the surgeon staples off part of the stomach, leaving only a small pouch. This stomach reduction restricts people to eat only as much as the small pouch can hold at any one time.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy is another weight loss surgery that is becoming more popular. For this surgery, part of the stomach is removed, leaving a small tube.

The researchers found that of patients who had gastric bypass, non-Hispanic white people lost about 63 percent of their excess weight three years after the operation. Hispanics had lost about 59 percent, and non-Hispanic blacks had lost about 56 percent.

There were no differences between the groups when it came to success rates with vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

More weight was lost when people had gastric bypass. Altogether, patients lost an average of 81.5 pounds with gastric bypass. Patients lost an average of 57.6 pounds with vertical sleeve gastrectomy.

In a press release, Dr. Coleman said that even though some patients may not lose as much weight as others, the amount of weight regained at three years is still very low for all of the patients.

“This supports the success of bariatric surgery for weight control in persons who have extreme obesity," she said. "We believe our study provides an opportunity for health care providers to potentially develop more culturally sensitive post-surgical programs to improve success rates for populations struggling with weight loss."

This study appeared in the May issue of Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.

This research was funded through an intramural grant from the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.

Review Date: 
June 24, 2014