Obese adults who undergo bariatric surgery have longer life expectancy than those who do not have surgery — but their life expectancy still lags behind that of the general population — according to long-term follow-up from an observational study in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers in Sweden followed some 2,000 obese adults who underwent bariatric surgery, 2,000 matched obese controls who did not have surgery, and 1,100 adults from the general population for roughly 20–24 years.
The median life expectancy in the surgery group was 3 years longer than among controls, with surgery patients showing significantly lower cardiovascular and cancer mortality. However, the surgery group’s life expectancy was still 5.5 years shorter than that of the general population.
The researchers note that the higher mortality in the surgery group relative to the general population may be attributable to “the above-normal Body Mass Index (BMI) even after bariatric surgery” and “irreversible effects of obesity-related metabolic dysfunction,” among other factors.