Weight Loss Surgery Is Good for the Whole Family

Good for the Whole FamilyAround 200,000 people have the most popular gastric bypass procedure, Roux-en-Y, each year. Typically, patients will experience a dramatic loss of excess weight and improvement in their health. But there’s a secret benefit that was not examined until recently: other members of the patient’s family lose weight and get healthier, too.

The Power of Support

Social support is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal when you are engaged in any sort of improvement program. Studies show that people who use weight loss support groups lose more weight and keep it off. It extends to other health improvements, as well. For instance, a smoker is 70% more likely to permanently quit cigarettes if a spouse stops smoking at the same time.

Dr. John Morton, who is the director of bariatric surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine, recruited 35 people who were going to have the procedure. In a study of the effects of weight loss surgery on the patient’s family, he followed them and their families for one year. The family members were asked to go with patients to all of their counseling sessions both before and after surgery.

The results were phenomenal. The patients, all of whom were morbidly obese at the start of the study, each lost an average of 100 pounds. Spouses and adult family members who participated in the study lost about 10 pounds on average. Children also saw improvements, losing several inches in waist size. (The children’s BMIs did not drop, as the kids were all growing during the study.)

How to Make This Work for Your Family

While the study was small, the benefits of mutual support are well-documented. A few ways that you can get your family involved in your personal weight loss goals and efforts:

  • Talk to your family about your decision to have weight loss surgery. Tell them what is involved and what sorts of changes will be necessary to help you lose weight and improve your health.
  • Bring family members with you to your counseling sessions.
  • Involve family members in menu planning. If they feel they have a say, they’ll be more enthusiastic.
  • Work out as a family. Instead of a chore, exercise can be a time to bond and play.