According to the University of California –Davis, obese women are four times more likely to have weight loss surgery than men. The study found that when male patients choose to have surgery, they are much older, more obese and sicker than their women counterparts who had surgery earlier.

Senior author of the study and chief of bariatric surgery at the University of California – Davis, Mohamed Ali says that patients who are more than 100 pounds or more above their proper body weight pose a dilemma that should be closely evaluated by a certified weight loss surgery surgeon.

About the Study

The study was published in Surgical Endoscopy with information from 1,368 patients who had bariatric surgery evaluations at UC Davis from the years 2002-2006. Nearly 82% of the patients were, in fact, female.

The patients studied all had weight-related health conditions that were a result of their obesity. These diseases and conditions include Type II Diabetes, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, increased fat levels in the blood, musculoskeletal peripheral disease, depression, back pain, gastroesophageal reflux disease and metabolic syndrome, which includes a combination of things that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease (heart disease).

The study, however, did show some differences between men and women. Men had more weight-related health conditions and more severe forms of their conditions (4.54 conditions and 3.7 serious ones for men compared to 4.15 conditions and 3.08 for women). Men were also more likely to have high blood pressure, 68.8% versus 55.3%, diabetes 36.4% versus 28.9%, metabolic syndrome 20.9% versus 15.2% and obstructive sleep apnea 71.9% versus 45.7%. Men were also more likely to have a higher body mass index or BMI measures at an average of 48.7 for men and 46.6 for females. They also were more likely to be in the BMI range of 50 to 59 or class IV obesity. They also were about two years older than females and more likely to be over 50 years old while having surgery for the first time.

Surgery Outlook

Even though men have higher weight, worse health and less lifespan than an obese female, men can still be improved with weight loss surgery. Surgeons must balance benefits against each particular patient’s risk for post-surgery complications. According to Ali, the risk can be lessened significantly if obese men were referred to surgeons before they develop these conditions.

The study is among the first to look at gender specifics regarding patients looking at weight loss surgery options. At the time of their analysis, nearly 930 patients of the study (70%) had chosen to have bariatric surgery, and only 14.4% of that total were men. The Foundation for Surgical Fellowships helps to support this educational study.

Another study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine shows that men are less likely to consider having weight loss surgery. In their study of 337 patients, men were less likely than women to consider surgery even though their average BMI was much higher than females in this study.