A Comparison of Eating Disorders among Patients Receiving Surgical vs Non-surgical Weight-loss Treatments

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Little is known about differences between patients in surgical and non-surgical weight-loss treatments (WLT) regarding eating disorders, level of general psychopathology, and health-related quality of life (HRQL). Such differences could indicate different clinical needs in the management of surgical compared to non-surgical WLT patients.


Participants were a subset of 100 patients from a Swedish study investigating the long-term effects of eating disorders in WLT. Participants filled out the Eating Disorders in Obesity Questionnaire as well as self-rating questionnaires of general psychopathology and HRQL before initiating surgical (n = 54) or non-surgical (n = 46) WLT.


Eating disorders were found to be more common among patients accepted for surgical treatments, whereas binge eating (as a symptom) was found to be equally common in both groups. Surgical patients also indicated higher levels of psychopathology compared to those receiving non-surgical treatment.


Patients in surgical WLT are younger, more obese, and indicate higher levels of eating disorders and psychopathology than non-surgical WLT patients. Results highlight the importance of surgical WLT units having adequate knowledge, resources, and methods for detecting and addressing issues of eating disorders and psychopathology before and during the WLT. Future longitudinal studies need to ascertain to what extent eating and general psychopathology influence the outcome of WLT in terms of lapses, complications, weight gain, quality of life, etc.

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