Morbid obesity is an increasing health problem in the United States, according to background information in the article. In 2002, 5.1 percent of U.S. adults had a body mass index (BMI) higher than 40. The prevalence of individuals with a BMI higher than 40 quadrupled from 1:200 in 1986 to 1:50 in 2000; the prevalence of individuals with a BMI higher than 50 quintupled from 1:2000 to 1:400. The increasing prevalence and associated sociodemographic disparities of morbid obesity are serious public health concerns. Bariatric surgical procedures provide greater and more durable weight reduction than behavioral and pharmacological interventions for morbid obesity.
Heena P. Santry, M.D., of the University of Chicago, and colleagues examined recent national population-based trends in bariatric surgical procedures, patient characteristics, and in-hospital complications to determine trends in newer techniques, in sociodemographic disparities, in co-existing illnesses, and in surgical complications due to these procedural and patient population changes. The researchers used the Nationwide Inpatient Sample to identify U.S. bariatric surgery admissions from 1998-2002 (with preliminary data for 12 states for 2003).
The researchers found that the estimated number of bariatric surgical procedures increased from 13,365 in 1998 to 72,177 in 2002. Based on preliminary state-level data (1998-2003), the number of bariatric surgical procedures is projected to be 102,794 in 2003. Gastric bypass procedures accounted for more than 80 percent of all bariatric surgical procedures. From 1998 to 2002, there were upward trends in the proportion of females (81 percent to 84 percent), privately insured patients (75 percent to 83 percent), patients from ZIP code areas with highest annual household income (32 percen
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