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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Temple: With ACS Working Group, Researcher Pushes Back Against Bariatric Bias

Studies continue to establish the medical benefits of bariatric surgery: Beyond helping persons with clinically severe obesity to lose pounds to look and feel better, bariatric procedures can result in lowered risk of obesity-linked issues including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart problems, and premature death.

But bariatric surgery faces an obstacle that many other medically beneficial procedures don’t, says Dr. David Sarwer, associate dean for research and director of Temple University College of Public Health’s Center for Obesity Research and Education, who is working with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) on a range of publications about the benefits of bariatric surgery. There’s a bias — across society and even within the medical community — against accepting obesity as a chronic disease. Those beliefs can stigmatize potentially life-changing surgical interventions; it’s been estimated that just one percent of candidates for bariatric surgery have a procedure done.

In 2017, the ACS, an education and advocacy group serving 82,000 members, sponsored a working group of surgeons and specialists in bariatric surgery to help the broader surgical community appreciate the medical benefits of the procedures. The bariatric panel convened for a 2017 symposium and has been publishing monthly educational papers on topics that emerged from those meetings throughout 2019 in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons. The goal of these reports is to highlight the latest advances in the field for the wider surgical community and change perceptions about the procedures. Dr. Sarwer is the only psychologist selected to join the ACS’s bariatric panel.

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