Study: Alcohol Abuse Increases After Weight Loss Surgery

A person wearing striped socks weighing themselves on a scale

Obese patients who have gastric bypass surgery for weight loss may have a higher risk of developing alcohol abuse problems, according to a recently releases study.

* Abuse rate climbed 2 percent after surgery
* More frequent after gastric bypasses, in younger men
* Specialist says shouldn’t deter obese people from procedures
* In 2009, 220,000 U.S. operations cost about $20,000 each

Although the rate of alcohol abuse climbed only 2 percent after the procedures, this translates into more than 2,000 new cases of abuse every year in the United States, according to the findings, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery in San Diego.

They were also published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Wendy King of the University of Pittsburgh and colleagues followed nearly 2,000 patients who had undergone a weight-loss procedure, including gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding, in which a silicone band is placed around the top portion of the stomach to restrict food intake.

People in the study answered questions about their drinking habits before surgery and again one and/or two years later. The team then rated the alcohol use on a scale developed by the World Health Organization to measure alcohol use disorders.

Before surgery, 7.6 percent of the patients had drinking problems, but two years after surgery, it had increased to 9.6 percent.

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