Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity, but it is unknown if outcomes differ between adults with early- versus adult-onset obesity. We investigated how obesity status at 20 years of age affects outcomes after bariatric surgery later in life.
The Swedish Obese Subjects study is a prospective matched study performed at 25 surgical departments and 480 primary health care centers. Participants aged 37–60 years with BMI ≥34 kg/m2 (men) or ≥38 kg/m2 (women) were recruited between 1987 and 2001; 2,007 participants received bariatric surgery and 2,040 usual care. Self-reported body weight at 20 years of age was used to stratify patients into subgroups with normal BMI (<25 kg/m2), overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2), or obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2). Body weight, energy intake, and type 2 diabetes status were examined over 10 years, and incidence of cardiovascular and microvascular disease was determined over up to 26 years using data from health registers.
There were small but statistically significant differences in reduction of body weight among the subgroups after bariatric surgery (interaction P = 0.032), with the largest reductions among those with obesity aged 20 years. Bariatric surgery increased type 2 diabetes remission (odds ratios 4.51, 4.90, and 5.58 in subgroups with normal BMI, overweight, or obesity at 20 years of age, respectively; interaction P = 0.951), reduced type 2 diabetes incidence (odds ratios 0.15, 0.13, and 0.15, respectively; interaction P = 0.972), and reduced microvascular complications independent of obesity status at 20 years of age (interaction P = 0.650). The association between bariatric surgery and cardiovascular disease was similar in the subgroups (interaction P = 0.674). Surgical complications were similar in the subgroups.
The treatment benefits of bariatric surgery in adults are similar regardless of obesity status at 20 years of age.