Obesity is a leading problem in the U.S. In fact, more than one-third of Americans are considered obese. Nutrient deficiencies are considered a complication of weight loss surgery—also called bariatric surgery.
But, according to a new study published in the journal Obesity Surgery, Johns Hopkins researchers suggest that obese individuals may be malnourished before the weight loss surgery.
“Our results highlight the often-overlooked paradox that abundance of food and good nutrition are not one and the same,” explained senior study researcher Dr. Kimberley Steele. “Overweight and obese people can suffer from nutritional deficiencies, and those who care for them should be aware of it.”
The results contradict the common belief that decreased food intake after weight loss surgery is the main cause of nutritional deficiencies. Since the surgery will reduce food absorption in the body, the patients receive vitamin supplementation after the operation; however, the study suggests that nutrients should be supplemented before surgery. Researchers observed that over 20% of patients preparing for weight loss surgery have multiple nutrient deficiencies.
For the study, the researchers assessed nutritional levels in 58 obese individuals between 18 and 65 years of age who had been scheduled for weight loss surgery. Blood levels of vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin E, folate, and iron were analyzed. The results revealed that one in five had three or more nutrient deficiencies, including 71% deficiency in vitamin D and 36% deficiency in iron.
Researchers noted that the average vitamin D levels in the study participants were considerably lower than the average adult. The patients were at 17 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of vitamin D in the blood, whereas the general population is typically at 22 ng/ml.
“Correcting malnutrition is not only easier before surgery, but it may also play a role in reducing surgical complications in the short term and improving overall health in the long run,” says the study’s lead author Leigh Peterson. “While deficiencies require carefully dosed supplementation, eating nutritious, quality food should be at the core of all dietary interventions.”
Sources for Today’s Article:
Peterson, L.A., et al., “Malnutrition in Bariatric Surgery Candiates: Multiple Micronutrient Deficiencies Prior to Surgery,” Obesity Surgery August 22, 2015, doi: 10.1007/s11695-015-1844-y.
“Nutritional deficiencies common before weight loss surgery,” ScienceDaily web site, September 14, 2015; http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150914102736.htm.