Geisinger study: Personal view of weight influences bariatric surgery success

Patients with less internalized weight bias experience greater weight loss

Oct 27, 2014, 13:30 ET from Geisinger Health System

DANVILLE, Pa., Oct. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Internal weight bias – or the negative feelings people have about their own weight – influence the success people have after undergoing weight loss surgery, according to a Geisinger research study to be published in the December issue of Obesity Surgery. The Geisinger study, which is currently available online, is considered the first and only study to examine internalized weight bias in relation to post-surgical weight loss success in adults.

"In this study, we measured the degree to which people undergoing weight loss surgery translate 'anti-fat' attitudes into negative beliefs about themselves before surgery and if this influences their weight loss results after surgery," said Michelle R. Lent, Ph.D., investigator and clinical psychologist at Geisinger's Obesity Institute. "These negative feelings make people vulnerable to low self-esteem, depression and binge eating."

Leveraging Geisinger's advanced electronic health record and its existing bariatric surgery database along with psychological surveys, the researchers found that as ratings of internalized weight bias before surgery increased, weight loss success 12 months after surgery decreased.

Researchers found no differences in ratings of bias between participants' race or geographic location (urban or rural), but identified high levels of internal negative thoughts and feelings in about 40 percent of preoperative participants. In addition, greater weight bias was associated with greater depression. On average, most participants were white females with a preoperative mean weight of 290 pounds and a postoperative mean weight of 195 pounds 12 months after surgery.

Clinically, the Geisinger study suggests a potential benefit to pre-operative weight bias screening. Identifying an opportunity to provide coping strategies, including counseling and peer support group participation, may help to foster long-term weight loss surgery success.

"How an individual internalizes weight bias relates to depression before surgery as well as overall weight loss success 12 months following bariatric surgery," said Dr. Lent. "Future studies should assess the impact of early weight bias screening and intervention to promote better psychological health and weight loss results."

About Geisinger
Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development of innovative care models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®. As one of the nation's largest rural health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 3 million residents throughout 48 counties in central, south-central and northeast Pennsylvania. The physician-led system is comprised of approximately 23,500 employees, including a 1,200-member multi-specialty group practice, nine hospital campuses, two research centers and a 467,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $7.7 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania economy. The health system and the health plan have repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit, or follow the latest Geisinger news and more on Twitter and Facebook.

Patti Urosevich, 570-204-1848, 
Mike Ferlazzo, 570-214-7410,

SOURCE Geisinger Health System