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Loss of Control Over Eating Predicts Outcomes in Bariatric Surgery Patients: A Prospective, 24-Month Follow-Up Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2010;71(2):175-184
10.4088/JCP.08m04328blu

Objective: This study examined the clinical significance of loss of control (LOC) over eating in bariatric surgery patients over 24 months of prospective, multiwave follow-ups.

Method: Three hundred sixty-one gastric bypass surgery patients completed a battery of assessments before surgery and at 6, 12, and 24 months following surgery. In addition to weight loss and LOC over eating, the assessments targeted eating disorder psychopathology, depression levels, and quality of life. The study was conducted between January 2002 and February 2008.

Results: Prior to surgery, 61% of patients reported general LOC; postsurgery, 31% reported LOC at 6-month follow-up, 36% reported LOC at 12-month follow-up, and 39% reported LOC at 24-month follow-up. Preoperative LOC did not predict postoperative outcomes. In contrast, mixed models analyses revealed that postsurgery LOC was predictive of weight loss outcomes: patients with LOC postsurgery lost significantly less weight at 12-month (34.6% vs 37.2% BMI loss) and 24-month (35.8% vs 39.1% BMI loss) postsurgery follow-ups. Postsurgery LOC also significantly predicted eating disorder psychopathology, depression, and quality of life at 12- and 24-month postsurgery follow-ups.

Conclusions: Preoperative LOC does not appear to be a negative prognostic indicator for postsurgical outcomes. Postoperative LOC, however, significantly predicts poorer postsurgical weight loss and psychosocial outcomes at 12 and 24 months following surgery. Since LOC following bariatric surgery significantly predicts attenuated postsurgical improvements, it may signal a need for clinical attention.


Submitted: April 29, 2008; accepted November 24, 2008.

Online ahead of print: October 20, 2009.

Corresponding author: Marney A. White, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, PO Box 208098, New Haven, CT 06520 (marney.white@yale.edu).