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Weight-loss surgery vs. diet and exercise

December 9, 2008 |  3:54 pm

When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, those who have had bariatric surgery are on par with those who have done it through diet and exercise.

So says a new study published online this month in the International Journal of Obesity. However, researchers found differences in the behaviors of the two groups.

BariatricBoth surgical and non-surgical weight-loss groups gained back similar, small amounts of weight over the year they were tracked, but diverged in other areas. While their total daily calorie intake was comparable (1,460 for the surgery group versus 1,407 for the non-surgery group at the one-year follow-up), the amount of fat they consumed was different: 37% of calories from fat for the surgery group and 27.6% for the non-surgery group at the year-end mark.

The surgery group ate more fast food meals per week than the non-surgery group by the end: 2 versus 0.9. At the one-year mark the non-surgery group also burned more calories per week via exercise than the surgery group: 3,014 versus 1,681. They burned more calories per week via vigorous exercise, too: 1,134 versus 414.

Higher levels of depression and stress for the surgery group were seen at the beginning of the study and at the one-year follow-up.

Researchers noted that while the non-surgery group exercised more and ate less fat, they had almost the same weight regain numbers as the surgery group. Errors in self-reporting could explain the similarities, as could the propensity to gain weight in people who have been obese.

"Future studies should focus on identifying factors that can target those individuals who are likely to remain inactive after surgery and might require additional interventions to increase their level of physical activity," said Dale Bond, lead author, in a news release. Bond is a research fellow in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University/The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: AFP / Getty Images