When one person gets a weight loss surgery, the benefits may extend to the rest of their family. New research is showing that one family member’s bariatric surgery can spur weight loss in loved ones.
For this study, researchers tracked the weight of spouses, children, and other family members living in the homes of 35 gastric bypass surgery patients. Before the surgery, the patients and their family members attended educational sessions that emphasized weight loss lifestyle choices.
While the surgical patients, normally women, reported a third of their body weight lost one year after surgery, other family members also saw significant weight loss. Following one adult’s weight loss surgery, the average weight of their obese family members dropped by 8 pounds and their average waistline shrank by 3 inches. More importantly, these family members also reported healthier habits including: more physical activity and exercise, less consumption of alcohol, and fewer instances of “uncontrollable eating.”
Earlier research has suggested that obesity is socially contagious; people are significantly more likely to become obese if their spouse, sibling, or friend is obese. These findings show that the same may be true in reverse; knowing someone who has lost weight may influence your weight loss in a positive manner.
Experts say that losing weight through less extreme means than bariatric surgery may have a similar impact on family units. Bariatric surgery is unique because its impact on the patient is so dramatic and far-reaching. Ultimately, when family members see a loved one experience terrific improvements in health it gives them hope that they can also lose weight.