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The obesity disease shortens life.  This has been statistically established for a couple of decades, and it’s been estimated that a 40-year-old man with obesity loses an average of 12 years compared with a man of normal weight.  There have been several studies going back to the 1990’s that have shown improved lifespan for obesity sufferers who go through bariatric surgery, and now researchers from Israel have shown that bariatric surgery can reduce the mortality rate to about half using a variety of different bariatric operations.

The researchers looked at health data for 8,385 individuals who had laparoscopic banding (n = 3,635), laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (n= 1,388) and gastric bypass (n = 1,388).  The median BMI before surgery was 40.6, and the median age was 46 years. This surgical group was matched against a group of 25,155 similar patients who did not have surgery but who had standard lifestyle management for their obesity disease.

During the study period (mean 4 years follow up), the surgical group had a 1.3% chance of dying from any cause, while during the same time period the non-surgical group had a 2.3% chance of death.  This remarkable mortality benefit from surgery came through even though a substantial proportion of the patients underwent the gastric banding procedure that has now been discredited as less safe and less effective than Sleeve or Gastric Bypass.

When asked to comment on the findings, Dr. Greenland (one of the study authors) said, “Surgery sounds like a radical approach to managing obesity, and a lot of people reject it because it seems like a risky thing to do, but it’s actually less risky to have the surgery.”