Jan 1, 2005
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The prevalence of obesity in the United States and elsewhere is rising precipitously: A 1999–2002 survey estimated that 30 percent of the U.S. population met the criteria for obesity, a body mass index (BMI—a ratio of weight to height) of 30 or higher (those with a BMI of 40 or over are considered severely obese). The health consequences of obesity are considerable, yet weight loss of just 5 to 10 percent may lower the risks. The increasing prevalence of obesity has intensified interest in surgical treatments to achieve weight loss, also known as bariatric surgery. These procedures can reduce stomach capacity or adjust intestinal length to restrict food consumption or reduce the calories and nutrients the body can absorb. With a reported rise in the number of procedures—and complications—researchers at the Southern California Evidence-Based Practice Center, which is funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and housed at RAND, recently examined the effectiveness and risks of this surgery by analyzing nearly 150 published studies, focusing on the most commonly performed procedures.
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