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How gastric bypass helps stop emotional eating

News | Adelaide Bariatric Centre

18 Sep 2013 12:40 PM

gastric bypass & emotional eating

Why do gastric bypass patients tend to lose more weight than gastric band patients? The permanent gastric bypass procedure is well known for causing more drastic weight loss than some other forms of bariatric surgery. Until now, it has been attributed to the fact that bypass patients can no longer enjoy or tolerate sweet or fatty foods, and thus find it easier to stick to a diet.

New research tells us it’s not just the avoidance of the ‘dumping’ syndrome caused by sweet or fatty foods that changes eating habits, though: it’s actually a change in the way the brain perceives food.

Doctors from the Medical Research Council took gastric bypass, gastric banded and control patients, and examined the way their brains reacted when shown images of food. Patients with a gastric bypass showed less activity in the brain’s reward region when looking at food - the region associated with eating for pleasure. They also rated high-energy foods as less desirable, both to look at and to eat.

“It is well established that patients after gastric bypass lose more weight than after gastric band and we think this is because of the different physical changes made to the gut during surgery, which somehow have an effect on the drive to eat for pleasure,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Tony Goldstone.

“Both procedures reduce appetite and have health benefits including long-term weight loss and improvement or even complete resolution of type 2 diabetes.

“However, gastric bypass surgery appears to be more effective for weight loss and has a more profound effect on the way in which the brain responds to food.

“These findings emphasise that different bariatric procedures work in different ways to influence eating behaviour.”

The findings may implicate that doctors around the world should take into account personal eating habits and cravings when recommending different types of surgery, as those with more emotional eating habits may benefit more from gastric bypass.

Is gastric bypass better than gastric band?

At Adelaide Bariatric Centre, we don’t tend to lean toward any particular kind of surgery. Our doctors are trained in all techniques so that they can offer what’s best for you. It’s important to proceed with an open mind and take as much guidance as you can, because every kind of bariatric surgery has its own pros and cons. 

IMAGE CREDIT: istock