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Geisinger Health System Study: Overweight Boys May Benefit From Living With Adult Who Has Bariatric Surgery

7/24/2014 10:11:12 AM

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DANVILLE, Pa., July 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A parent's bariatric surgery could be an opportunity to  break the cycle of obesity in an overweight son body mass index (BMI) of 85 to 94 according to a Geisinger research study published in the July issue of Obesity. The Geisinger study is considered the largest study of the effect of an adult's Roux-enY (RYGB) gastric bypass surgery on the weight of children in the same household.

Leveraging Geisinger's advanced electronic health record and its existing bariatric surgery database, the researchers found that overweight boys who lived with an adult who had bariatric surgery had a lower-than-expected BMI post-surgery, while overweight boys who did not live with an adult with a history of bariatric surgery had a higher-than-expected BMI at follow-up.  Differences between actual and expected BMIs of children were not significantly different between cases and controls in girls or in children in other weight classes.

While the Geisinger study does not support a collateral benefit of bariatric surgery in most children, it clearly demonstrates a benefit in boys with a BMI of 85-94. Identifying an opportunity to lower BMI in overweight boys is particularly important, given there has been a significant increase in obesity prevalence among men and boys over the last decade, while obesity rates have remained stable in girls and women.

"The relationship between parent and childhood obesity is likely attributable to a combination of genetic and family environmental influences," says Christopher D. Still, D.O., director of Geisinger's Obesity Institute. "We believe that environmental influences, including parental modeling of eating behavior, responsiveness to child signals, and availability of certain foods in the home, may offer possible opportunities for intervention.  Parental obesity is one of the strongest risk factors for childhood obesity. The prevalence of obesity among children living with bariatric surgery in our study was 40 percent twice the national average. Obese children are more likely to suffer from physical and emotional ailments like high blood pressure, acid reflux, knee and back pain, and low self-esteem.

"Children of parents who undergo bariatric surgery are at a high risk of obesity. We may be able to leverage bariatric surgery to help us target children at high risk of obesity for a weight loss intervention," says Annemarie Hirsch, Ph.D., research investigator from Geisinger's Center for Health Research. "Specifically, because the adult family member is already engaged in making lifestyle changes, this may present an opportunity to target the parent in a family-based healthy lifestyle intervention."

About Geisinger
Geisinger Health System is an integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development of innovative care models such as ProvenHealth Navigator® and ProvenCare®. As one of the nation's largest rural health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 2.6 million residents throughout 44 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. The physician-led system is comprised of more than 21,000 employees, including a 1,100-member multi-specialty group practice, eight hospital campuses, two research centers and a 467,000-member health plan, all of which leverage an estimated $7.4 billion positive impact on the Pennsylvania economy. The health system and the health plan have repeatedly garnered national accolades for integration, quality and service. In addition to fulfilling its patient care mission, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit, or follow the latest Geisinger news and more on Twitter and Facebook.

Patti Urosevich, 570-204-1848
Mike Ferlazzo, 570-214-7410

SOURCE Geisinger Health System

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