Is Marriage Bad for Weight-Loss Surgery?

Here at Diabetes Flashpoints, we’ve covered both the potential benefits and the risks and drawbacks of bariatric (weight-loss) surgery several times over the years — including whether its effects on diabetes are permanent, whether children should have the surgery, the relative merits of gastric bypass versus gastric banding, and the surgery’s effect on your bones. And if these considerations weren’t already enough for you to think about, researchers have now brought another topic back into the spotlight: the effect of being married on the surgery, and vice versa.

In a review of studies published last December in the journal Obesity Surgery, researchers looked at 13 previously published articles that examined the connection between relationships and weight loss following bariatric surgery. As described in a HealthDay article on the review, out of the six studies that focused on marriage, four found that single people lost more weight after their surgery than married people. The remaining two studies found similar or inconclusive results between the groups. One of the six studies found that single people were 2.6 times more likely than married people to reach their weight goal a year after their surgery, and another found that single people were 2.7 times more likely to stick to their diet and exercise plan.

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But the problems of married people who underwent bariatric surgery didn’t end there. The 10 studies that examined relationship quality before and after the surgery found that in general, relationships were worse off several months after the surgery. This happened despite the fact that three studies found bariatric surgery to lead to more sex and more enjoyment of sex within relationships — possibly due to the partial or full resolution of sexual dysfunction caused by excess body weight.

The researchers noted that about two-thirds of people who undergo bariatric surgery are married, so the implications of these results are vast, given that an estimated 179,000 people had the surgery in 2013 — and the number has most likely risen each year after that. The researchers recommended that spouses of people interested in having the surgery be included in discussions about its risks and benefits, as well as diet, exercise, and weight-loss goals after the surgery.

Have you undergone bariatric surgery while married or in a relationship? Do you think your relationship had a positive or negative effect on the results of the surgery? Did the surgery have any noticeable impact on your relationship? Is it difficult to stick to a diet and exercise plan when your spouse isn’t following the plan with you? Why do you think some relationships deteriorate after bariatric surgery? Leave a comment below!