Obesity has become an increasingly important health problem over the past 30 years. Presently around a quarter of the UK adult population are obese and this figure is set to increase further in the coming decades. The health consequences of obesity on multiple body systems have been well established as has the financial cost of the condition to both the individuals affected as well as to society as a whole. Bariatric surgery has been shown to be the only long term effective solution in terms of sustained weight loss and comorbidity resolution. The commonest bariatric procedure in the UK is the Roux-en-y gastric bypass which consistently results in the loss of 70%-80% of excess bodyweight. Results however are variable and in order to optimise resource allocation and avoid exposing patients unlikely to benefit from surgery to its inherent risks, much research has been done to try to identify those patients most likely to obtain a good result. The only factor which has been subjected to meta-analysis is that of preoperative weight loss which shows a positive association with postoperative weight loss following bypass surgery. Although the remaining data are not based on level 1 evidence those other preoperatively identifiable factors which are associated with an improved outcome include Caucasian or Hispanic ethnicity, higher educational status, non-shift-work working patterns, female gender and divorced or single marital status. Similarly increased levels of preoperative physical activity and an absence of binge eating behaviour are consistent with a favourable result whereas increased age, smoking and other socioeconomic factors have not been shown to have a significant impact. Conversely diabetes mellitus seems to have a slight negative correlation with postoperative weight loss; however, a history of sexual abuse or psychiatric illness has not been shown to have a lasting influence.