Problematic Eating Behaviors Predict Outcomes After Bariatric Surgery

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Obesity surgery : the official journal of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and of the Obesity Surgery Society of Australia and New Zealand


BACKGROUND: There are no clear psychosocial predictors of weight loss following bariatric surgery. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether preoperative problematic eating behaviors predict weight loss outcomes following bariatric surgery.

METHODS: Clinical records were utilized to examine outcomes of 101 patients who completed a pre-surgical psychosocial evaluation and underwent gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. Information analyzed included binge eating history and scores from the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Yale Food Addiction Scale, and Emotional Eating Scale. Measures of weight loss 1 year post-surgery were compared to pre-surgical assessments.

RESULTS: One-year follow-up data were available for 60 patients. Patients with higher levels of eating in response to anger/frustration (p = .02), anxiety (p = .01), or depression (p = .05) were more likely to miss the 1-year follow-up appointment. Eating in response to anger/frustration and depression were related to poorer weight loss outcomes. There was a trend for binge eating to predict greater %EWL (p = .06). A higher number of food addiction symptoms increased the likelihood that patients would experience less weight loss (p = .01). Psychiatric symptoms were not related to weight loss outcomes.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients who endorsed higher levels of pre-surgical emotional eating and food addiction symptoms had poorer weight loss 1 year post-surgery. Providers should consider screening patients for these behaviors during the pre-surgical psychosocial evaluation which would allow opportunities for psychotherapy and potential improvement in weight loss outcomes. Future research should examine which interventions are successful at improving problematic eating behaviors.

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