Healthy living * Weight loss * Mental wellbeing

Weight loss surgery can lead to low self esteem

weight loss surgery can cause mental problems Physical health can improve but psychological problems remain

Having a gastric band fitted to lose weight can bring health benefits, but a new study has found that it can also lead to psychological problems.

25 patients recorded their experiences for a year after receiving surgery to have a gastric band fitted. Most of the participants had Type 2 diabetes.

The surgery had positive effects on physical health, leading to improved blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. But most of the patients reported strong negative psychological after-effects, such as low self-esteem, relationship problems and being dissatisfied with their body image.

Many believed that having a gastric band was as hard as having to diet and that losing the opportunity to eat as a coping strategy left them struggling to deal with distressing life events.

Despite this NHS figures show that there had been a 55 per cent increase in the number of people having weight-loss surgery, such as stomach stapling or having a gastric band fitted, between 2006/07 and 2008/09.

Leader of the study Dr Andrew Johnson from Southmead Hospital said: "Our findings show that having a gastric band fitted should not be seen as the easy option when it comes to losing weight. This operation has a strong psychological impact as well as a physical one and we found that regular psychological support is needed to help people cope with the realities of having the device fitted."

A spokesman for the charity Diabetes UK, Simon O’Neill, commented: "Losing weight not only reduces your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes but also significantly improves management in those who have the condition."

But he cautioned that "We always advise people wanting to lose weight to try to do so by following a healthy, balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in fat, sugar and salt combined with physical activity."

While accepting that a surgical option to help lose significant amounts of weight for people who are obese, he advised that it should only be considered if sustained attempts to lose weight through diet and lifestyle changes have been unsuccessful.

For more information you can call the Diabetes UK Careline (0845 120 2960) or visit the Diabetes UK web site at

This article was published on Thu 4 March 2010

Image © Sheila Eames -

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