Reuters Health recently published an article about the long-term benefits of gastric bypass surgery. Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) bariatric experts report that positive outcomes with their patients met or exceeded those reported in the recent report. PAMF is part of the Sutter Health network that serves the San Francisco Peninsula and South Bay areas.
Research released by the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City showed that improvements in diabetes and blood pressure may hold up for years after the procedures. The study’s six-year patient follow-ups found that three quarters of people who’d undergone gastric bypass surgery had lost at least 20 percent of their pre-surgery weight and kept it off.
PAMF’s 2011 weight management and bariatric surgery outcomes report shows that PAMF’s positive patient outcomes equaled or exceeded the findings of the University of Utah School of Medicine. The PAMF outcomes study illustrates that patients averaged a 12-point reduction in their BMI after surgical intervention. The average weight loss experienced ranged from 106 to 196 pounds.
Bariatric surgery is typically recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height – of at least 40, or at least 35 if they also have co-occurring health problems such as diabetes or severe sleep apnea.
Albert Wetter, M.D., the medical director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program at PAMF’s Burlingame Center, cited an outcomes report he recently co-produced with colleagues that measured his department’s outcomes and successes.
“If BMIs were lowered, the number of Americans who could be spared from developing major obesity-related diseases would be dramatic,” Dr. Wetter said.
To quantify the obesity crisis in California, Dr. Wetter contrasts incidence of high-risk medical conditions in California with those in Alaska:
- Type 2 diabetes: 14,389 in Alaska to 796,430 in California
- Coronary heart disease and stroke: 11,889 in Alaska to 656,970 in California
- Hypertension: 10,826 in Alaska to 698,431 in California
- Arthritis: 6,858 in Wyoming to 387,850 in California
- Obesity-related cancer: 809 in Alaska to 52,769 in California
“If obesity rates continue on their current trajectories, by 2030 the obesity rate in California could exceed 46 percent. If BMIs were reduced by five percent, the number of California residents who could be spared from developing new cases of major obesity-related diseases is compelling,” Dr. Wetter said, citing these projections:
- 796,430 people could be spared from type 2 diabetes
- 656,970 from coronary heart disease and stroke
- 698,431 from hypertension
- 387,850 from arthritis
- 52,769 from obesity-related cancer
While weight loss surgery isn’t the answer for every person who is more than 80 pounds overweight, it is the most reliable way to sustain significant weight loss for years.
“While most people can lose some weight and keep it off in the short term, weight loss surgery is proven to help people keep most of their excess weight off for the long-term. This study confirms that the weight loss, as well as the benefits of it, persists years after the operation,” said Pamela Foster, M.D., another bariatric surgery expert at PAMF’s Burlingame Center.
In the last five years, Drs. Wetter and Foster, along their PAMF colleagues John Feng, M.D., Beeman Khalil, M.D., and Prithvi Legha, M.D., have performed more than 2,200 weight loss surgeries.
“It is very rewarding to see patients at a healthy weight and a more satisfying quality of life,” said Dr. Feng.
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, about 200,000 people have weight loss surgery every year.
PAMF launched regional, coordinated weight management programs that tackle the foundations and consequences of obesity. The teams include physicians, weight loss surgeons, dieticians, exercise physiologists, health care educators, behavioral health experts and nurses, all of whom work together in an integrated weight management program designed to meet the variable needs of their patients.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s HMR (Health Management Resources) weight management program team was recently recognized by the HMR parent organization with 10 Gold Standard awards for excellence in performance and patient care.
HMR presents Gold Standard Certificates annually to a select group of clinics across the nation in categories such as greatest weight-loss rates, outstanding group attendance and best weight maintenance data. HMR programs nationwide submit clinical data in these areas and top programs are awarded with the HMR Gold Standard Certificate of Achievement. PAMF’s HMR Program has earned Gold Standard awards yearly since 1996 but this is the first year that the PAMF team received awards in 10 categories.
“We’re very proud of this accomplishment,” says Karen Handy, MPH; HMR, nutrition and diabetes education program manager at PAMF’s Mountain View Center. “Only a handful of the 200 HMR programs nationwide receive 10 Gold Awards in the annual recognition program. This is a true testament to a dedicated staff that is passionate about their work. The strong partnerships with our patients, data-driven approach, best attendance and compliance rates and very low drop-out rates mean that we are consistently able to achieve significant results and help our patients regain their health and quality of life.” Read More about PAMF Weight Management Program Honored for Excellence & Patient Care