Help Decide the Future of Aging. Join the White House’s Live Stream Tomorrow From Seattle. Learn more


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy
Bob Dylan Talks!


Military and Veterans Discount


You Could Choose Your Dream Vacation


Introducing RealPad by AARP


AARP Auto Buying Program

Download the ipad App



Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!


AARP Games - Play Now!


Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.


Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.



Heart Disease


Most Popular


Before and After Weight-Loss Surgery

Gastric bypass, banding are options for obesity

Bariatric surgery to lose weight. Before and after pictures of Julie Hartje.

Julie Hartje has lost 60 pounds since gastric bypass surgery. — Courtesy of Julie Hartje

Growing acceptance

Bariatric surgery is winning respect. "There's been deep skepticism about surgery for weight loss, in part because obesity hasn't been officially viewed as a disease," says surgeon David R. Flum, M.D., a professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. "But type 2 diabetes is widely accepted as a disease, and one that can lead to blindness, kidney failure, amputations. Since surgery can reliably reverse diabetes in people who are seriously overweight or obese, we should be offering them that option."

With the astonishing reversal of type 2 diabetes in many patients, some experts say the bariatric procedures should be an option even for people who aren't morbidly obese.

Experts use body mass index, or BMI — a combined measure of height and weight — to determine who should be considered for bariatric surgery. A BMI of 30 or more is obese. Guidelines from the National Institutes of Health say bariatric surgery is an option for anyone with a BMI of 40 or higher. (A woman 5 feet 4 inches weighing 235 has a BMI of 40.3, for example.) People with a BMI of 35 to 39 and a medical condition related to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, also are candidates.

Besides gastric bypass, the other common weight-loss surgery and the least invasive is gastric banding, the option chosen by reality TV star Sharon Osbourne. Surgeons place a hollow silicon band around the upper stomach, creating a small pouch, which drastically restricts the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. The Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of gastric bands for patients with a BMI between 30 and 34 and medical complications related to obesity.

Some bariatric centers require patients to go on a weight loss and exercise regimen before the operation, to prove they're willing to make lifestyle changes. A growing number of insurers require prospective patients to go on supervised liquid diets and to lose some weight before they'll cover the costs. But critics say some insurers set increasingly strict requirements to discourage people from getting bariatric operations. "There's no evidence that dieting and losing weight before surgery improves outcome," says Michael Jay Nusbaum, M.D., chief of bariatric surgery at Morristown Memorial Hospital in New Jersey.

Next: What's the most popular form of bariatric surgery? >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members get exclusive points offers from Walgreens, Duane Reade and

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

AARP membership discount Man trying on eyeglasses at optometrists smiling

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at LensCrafters.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.