A new study on weight loss surgery showed that there is a halo effect for the families of surgery patients. The study was conducted by researchers at Stanford University and published in the Archives of Surgery. The key finding was that family members of gastric bypass patients also experience improvements in their weight and health after surgery. The study consisted of 35 patients and 35 adult family members and 15 children.  The weight, exercise habits, and eating habits of the family members were measured and recorded prior to the surgery and then again a year post-op.  Many of the family members were overweight or obese along with the patient, with 60 percent of the adult family members obese, as well as 73 percent of the children.

At one year post-op, the study showed that the obese adult family members had lost an average of 3.4 percent of their body weight—which is comparable to what is typical results of structured diet programs.  In addition, the adults felt that they had better control over their eating habits and reported less emotional eating and reduced alcohol consumption. The obese children of surgery patients were found to have Body Mass Indexes (BMIs) that were lower than what was expected looking at their previous weight gain.  Another collateral benefit was that family members of all ages and BMIs were more physically active and reported spending more time exercising each week than prior to the surgery.

Even modest weight loss, such as the 3.4 percent weight loss shed by the patients’ family members, can results in improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugars.