Obese black Americans half as likely as whites to have bariatric surgery

August 5, 2013, Imperial College London

White Americans who are obese are twice as likely as black Americans to have surgery to tackle the problem, a study has found.

Bariatric is now recognised as a successful treatment for preventing serious complications of obesity such as diabetes and . The new study is one of the first to look at whether people who need surgery most are actually receiving it.

Researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Imperial College London studied rates of bariatric surgery in the US from 1999 to 2010.

Twenty-two per cent of black women and 11 per cent of black men were eligible for bariatric surgery, compared with 12 per cent of white women and eight per cent of white men. But twice as many eligible white women and men than black women and men received bariatric surgery.

Differences in insurance coverage appeared to be partly responsible for the discrepancy: about 70 per cent of eligible white men and women had private health insurance compared with 50 per cent of black men and women.

"Bariatric surgery has been shown to be an effective treatment for moderate to clinically severe obesity and more importantly is has the benefit of successfully resolving or improving the important chronic conditions of diabetes and hypertension in the majority of cases," said Arch G. Mainous III, from the Medical University of South Carolina.

"Bariatric surgery can improve quality of life, decrease the risk of , and lower disability and health-care costs. Consequently, this health disparity in treatment has implications for health care costs and morbidity due to common diseases like diabetes and hypertension, conditions that are highly prevalent in the African American community."

Dr Sonia Saxena, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "Our earlier research found that 45 per cent of who regularly visited the doctor's office did not recall being told by their doctor that they had a weight problem. Those who did were six to eight times more likely to recognise the problem and twice as likely to do something about it.

"Our new findings suggest that differences in insurance coverage are part of the reason why black Americans are less likely to have bariatric surgery, but it may not be the whole story. We need more research to look at whether cultural differences, perhaps a greater acceptance of obesity, lack of awareness of the risks or mistrust of doctors, might also be contributing." Around half of black men and women in the US are obese, compared with one third of white adults. The study found that around six out of every thousand eligible white women had bariatric surgery compared with three out of every thousand eligible black women. Two out of every thousand eligible had bariatric surgery compared with one out of every thousand eligible .

The findings are published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Explore further: Race might play role in success of weight-loss surgery

Related Stories

Race might play role in success of weight-loss surgery

June 20, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Black women without diabetes lost about 10 percent less weight than white women after having a weight-loss procedure called gastric bypass surgery, but having diabetes helped increase their weight loss, a new ...

Bariatric surgery substantially reduces the risk of diabetes

September 18, 2012
Bariatric surgery reduces the long-term risk of developing diabetes by over 80 % among people with obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) has published the results of a study conducted at Sahlgrenska Academy, ...

Some slightly obese may gain from weight-loss surgery, guidelines say

April 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—Even people who are slightly obese could be candidates for weight-loss surgery under new guidelines released by three U.S. medical groups.

Does bariatric surgery impact medical costs associated with obesity?

February 20, 2013
Bariatric surgery is a well-documented treatment for obesity that leads to considerable weight loss and health improvement, but is the surgery successful in the long run in reducing costs associated with medical care for ...

Four-fold rise in children treated for obesity-related conditions

June 12, 2013
The number of children admitted to hospital for problems related to obesity in England and Wales quadrupled between 2000 and 2009, a study has found.

Holistic scoring system of obesity treatment outcomes

April 23, 2013
A new scoring system takes a holistic view of the effect of obesity treatment in patients.

Recommended for you

PFASs, chemicals commonly found in environment, may interfere with body weight regulation

February 13, 2018
A class of chemicals used in many industrial and consumer products was linked with greater weight gain after dieting, particularly among women, according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The chemicals—perfluoroalkyl ...

Study shows benefits of exercise can outweigh health effects of severe obesity

February 12, 2018
Can you be fit and healthy even if you're overweight? That's the question researchers at York University's Faculty of Health set out to answer in a new study that shows physical activity may be equally and perhaps even more ...

Obesity drives US health care costs up by 29 percent, varies by state

February 7, 2018
The prevalence of obesity has risen dramatically in the U.S., but there has been little information about the economic impact of this trend for individual states.

Why diets backfire: A year or more after weight loss, the desire to eat grows stronger

February 2, 2018
Losing weight is, for most people, the easy part. The bigger challenge is trying to keep it off for more than a year.

Scientists identify weight loss ripple effect

February 1, 2018
People who make an effort to lose weight aren't just helping themselves, they may be helping others too.

To improve self-control, call weight loss what it is: Difficult

January 29, 2018
To reach your New Year's fitness goals, a bit of reverse psychology might be in order. Telling people that weight loss is extremely challenging—rather than imparting a "You can do it!" mantra—motivated them to shed more ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

radfatty
not rated yet Aug 06, 2013
There are many reasons why weight loss surgery is not the "answer" that people make it out to be, some of which are:
• Bariatric surgery may appear to cure diabetes based on measurements such as fasting plasma glucose and hemoglobin A1c, but postprandial glucose may tell a different story
• Iron absorption is markedly reduced after RYGBP with no further modifications, at least until 18 mo after surgery
• A 2006 study concluded that WLS complications are common. By examining insurance claims for 2,522 surgeries, researchers with the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found that 40% of patients had complications in 6 mths after surgery, about double the rate in previous studies
• In contrast to current bariatric studies, which report a 20% in-hospital complication rate, we find a significantly higher complication rate over the 6 months after surgery, resulting in costly readmissions and emergency room visits
There is an evidence-based alternative, Health At Every Size.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.