Parents who have had bariatric surgery may require dietary supplements and should pay close attention to their nutritional intake, according to a UT Southwestern Medical Center study. Published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, the study followed a group of gastric banding patients and revealed that despite nutritional counseling during a three-month span, most still did not meet daily requirements for nutrients such as protein, calcium, and vitamin D.

Overweight individuals should compare the nutritional impact risks of bariatric surgery against the procedure’s benefits in fighting obesity and related diseases. At UT Southwestern, bariatric patients receiving careful examination, counseling, and monitoring to defend against nutritional deficiencies in post-operative care.

According to the American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery, close to 150,000 to 160,000 bariatric procedures are conducted annually in the U.S. That’s a slight fall from a peak of 220,000 surgeries in 2009, but still up from 103,000 in 2003. The surgery, which typically falls in the range of $11,500 to $26,000, may or may not be covered by insurance.

According to lead study author, Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, “Over the past 10 years, the popularity of bariatric surgery has escalated. In banding surgery, it’s presumed there aren’t as many nutritional precautions needed as with some more invasive bariatric surgery options.”

However, what the study demonstrated is that many banding patients are likely to encounter nutritional problems following surgery, even despite taking supplements and receiving nutritional counseling. Gastric banding involves implanting an adjustable band around the top region of the stomach to reduce the size of the stomach pouch. Since the stomach pouches are smaller, banding patients consume less and often miss critical nutrients.

Although there some boosts in nutrition during the test period, the group of 23 study participants still had nutritional deficiencies of concern. At least 86 percent did not achieve recommended requirements for vitamin D and calcium. Additionally, a number of participants were slightly anemic at the 12 week mark.


Written by Stuart Diamond