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Medical News & Perspectives
October 4, 2006

Surgery Useful for Morbid Obesity, but Safety and Efficacy Questions Linger

JAMA. 2006;296(13):1575-1577. doi:10.1001/jama.296.13.1575

Any debate over the value of bariatric surgery for the treatment of morbid obesity appears over; it works better than lifestyle modification or drug therapy. Whether it becomes the standard of care for patients with morbid obesity remains a question as some insurers refuse to cover the procedure and patients, embarrassed by their condition and burdened by a societal bias that obesity is a personal failure rather than a medical problem, are reluctant to seek treatment.

Advocates like Philip R. Schauer, MD, president of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery, say that surgical weight-reduction procedures are the only proven method of eliminating pounds and keeping them off for the approximately 15 million US individuals with morbid obesity (defined as a body mass index [BMI] >40 or >35 with a comorbid condition such as hypertension or type 2 diabetes).