(HealthDay News) — Bariatric surgery appears to prolong life for severely obese adults, according to a new study published in the Jan. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

David Arterburn, M.D., M.P.H., an associate investigator with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, and colleagues tracked 2,500 patients who had bariatric surgery at Veterans Affairs bariatric centers from 2000 to 2011. Their average age was 52 and their body mass index was 47 kg/m². Three-quarters of the patients had gastric bypass surgery, 15 percent underwent sleeve gastrectomy, and 10 percent had adjustable gastric banding. The researchers compared these patients with 7,462 patients of similar age and size who did not have a weight-loss procedure.

The researchers found that over 14 years of follow-up, 263 patients who had bariatric surgery died from any cause, compared with 1,277 obese patients who didn’t have surgery. Arterburn’s team estimated the death rates for the surgical patients was 6.4 percent after five years and 13.8 percent at 10 years. The estimated death rates for patients who didn’t have bariatric surgery were 10.4 percent at five years, and 23.9 percent at 10 years.

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“Patients with severe obesity can have greater confidence that bariatric surgical procedures are associated with better long-term survival than not having surgery,” Arterburn told HealthDay. Earlier studies have shown better survival among younger obese women who had bariatric surgery, but this study confirms this finding in older men and women who suffer from other health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, he said.


  1. Arterburn, D, et al. JAMA, 2015; doi:10.1001/jama.2014.16968.