SOURCE: Arterburn DE, et al. JAMA 2015;313:62-70.

The benefits of bariatric surgery are gaining new levels of respect as long-term evidence of favorable outcomes — other than cosmetic — continue to accrue. Indeed, in the population of obese diabetics, bariatric surgery is one of the only interventions documented to improve all-cause mortality.

New support for the positive impact of bariatric surgery comes from a retrospec- tive cohort study of patients (n = 2500) who had undergone bariatric surgery in Veteran’s Administration (VA) hospitals throughout the United States in the inter- val from 2000-2011. Survival in these patients was compared with a control group matched for age, body mass index (BMI), and type 2 diabetes. The mean pre-surgical BMI in the bariatric surgery group was 47, and mean age was 52 years.

In the follow-up intervals from years 1-5 and, years later, 5-14, there was a distinct advantage favoring bariatric surgery patients, who enjoyed a greater than 50% lower all-cause mortality than matched controls.

Because this study is retrospective, it cannot be regarded as definitive in prov- ing that bariatric surgery reduces mor- tality. Additionally, because these data were collected from VA hospitals, the patient population was disproportionately male (74%). Nonetheless, the accumulating evidence consistently points to favorable effects of bariatric surgery upon mortality.