In the relatively short history of bariatric surgery, the procedure has been recommended almost exclusively to people with a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or more-morbidly obese. However, building evidence shows that surgeons should open up their operating tables to those with a BMI as low as 30.
A BMI of 30 is widely regarded as the lowest number on the body mass index scale to be considered obese. Even though morbid obesity may seem like a more dire situation (and therefore more appropriate for bariatric surgery), those with a BMI under 40 can still experience a host of health problems that weight-loss surgery may alleviate more significantly than traditional weight-loss methods, which have failed many people at all levels of obesity.
Published in The Cochrane Library, a new review of multiple studies shows that moderately obese patients lose an average of 87% of their excess weight with bariatric surgery, compared to 22% through diet, exercise and medication. There was also greater improvement in type 2 diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome with bariatric surgery.
The risks remain, regardless of BMI. However, experts increasingly agree that the benefits outweigh the risks of surgery and remaining obese, no matter the number.
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