, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 349-356
Date: 25 Jun 2009

Behavioral Predictors of Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery

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After bariatric surgery, a lifelong threat of weight regain remains. Behavior influences are believed to play a modulating role in this problem. Accordingly, we sought to identify these predictors in patients with extreme obesity after Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB).


In a large tertiary hospital with an established bariatric program, including a multidisciplinary outpatient center specializing in bariatric medicine, with two bariatric surgeons, we mailed a survey to 1,117 patients after RYGB. Of these, 203 (24.8%) were completed, returned, and suitable for analysis. Respondents were excluded if they were less than 1 year after RYGB. Baseline demographic history, preoperative Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), and Brief Symptom Inventory-18 scores were abstracted from the subjects’ medical records; pre- and postoperative well-being scores were compared.


Of the study population, mean age was 50.6 ± 9.8 years, 147 (85%) were female, and 42 (18%) were male. Preoperative weight was 134.1 ± 23.6 kg (295 ± 52 lb) and 170.0 ± 29.1 kg (374.0 ± 64.0 lb) for females and males, respectively, p < 0.0001. The mean follow-up after bariatric surgery was 28.1 ± 18.9 months. Overall, the mean pre- versus postoperative well-being scores improved from 3.7 to 4.2, on a five-point Likert scale, p = 0.001. A total of 160 of the 203 respondents (79%) reported some weight regain from the nadir. Of those who reported weight regain, 30 (15%) experienced significant regain defined as an increase of ≥15% from the nadir. Independent predictors of significant weight regain were increased food urges (odds ratios (OR) = 5.10, 95% CI 1.83–14.29, p = 0.002), severely decreased postoperative well-being (OR = 21.5, 95% CI 2.50–183.10, p < 0.0001), and concerns over alcohol or drug use (OR = 12.74, 95% CI 1.73–93.80, p = 0.01). Higher BDI scores were associated with lesser risk of significant weight regain (OR = 0.94 for each unit increase, 95% CI 0.91– 0.98, p = 0.001). Subjects who engaged in self-monitoring were less likely to regain any weight following bariatric surgery (OR = 0.54, 95% CI 0.30–0.98, p = 0.01). Although the frequency of postoperative follow-up visits was inversely related to weight regain, this variable was not statistically significant in the multivariate model.


Predictors of significant postoperative weight regain after bariatric surgery include indicators of baseline increased food urges, decreased well-being, and concerns over addictive behaviors. Postoperative self-monitoring behaviors are strongly associated with freedom from regain. These data suggest that weight regain can be anticipated, in part, during the preoperative evaluation and potentially reduced with self-monitoring strategies after RYGB.

Presented on June 16, 2008 at the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Scientific Meeting in Washington, DC, USA
No conflicts of interest to disclose from any author.