AMA states that Weight Loss Surgery has ethical and scientific problems
In the April 2003 issue of the Journal of the American
Medical Association (JAMA), the AMA asked some thought provoking questions
about the effectiveness of weight loss surgery, and also about the safety of
the procedures, long term.
No studies on Weight Loss Surgery were included in this issue which was dedicated to the treatment of obesity and the bariatric surgery we see advertised so often on TV with smiling faces like Carnie Wilson and Al Roker, was only included in a comment article.
Mitka added that there are "scientific questions about safety and effectness and ethical issues such as potential conflicts of interests among surgeons."
A long hard look was taken at the heavy advertising of Weight Loss surgery on TV etc. "Some physicians", wrote Mitka, were beginning to "question whether the profession is handling this therapy properly.", adding that some surgeons had a year long waiting list for the procedures.
The JAMA article admitted that the short term results of Weight Loss surgery were impressive showing large weight losses as well as improvement of disorders like diabetes type II. But it also stated:
Dr Ernsberger of Case Western Reserve School of Medicine feels that these "issues" might be more resolved than some are willing to admit. On a recent Donahue show, he stated:
Dr Edward Livingston stated in the JAMA article, that we need a REAL trial comparing medical treatment of obesity to the surgical treatment. Livingston added that he believed such a trial would show that the benefits of surgery had been "overestimated".
Interestingly enough, the US government has provided for such a study, spanning 5 years, to begin soon which, like the HERS study on HRT might be very enlightening.
In the meantime, the AMA's advice to surgeons in order to workaround the ethical and scientific issues with this surgery was to tell patients that Weight Loss surgery is 'investigational' and to also inform patients that it is not known whether these procedures will help the patient.
The AMA's attitude toward current bariatric procedures differs greatly from the TV ads which call this surgery the only 'safe' way to 'lose weight permanently'.
It's probably very good advice for patients to research the surgery with additional sources to those who are selling the procedures - just like when we want to know about a car, we consult "Consumer Reports" first, before we expose ourselves to the salesperson wishing to sell us the car. Should we take less care with our bodies?
Source: JAMA, April 9, 2003-VoL 289, No. 14, pg 1761-2