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Obes Surg. 2004 Jan;14(1):98-102.

"Grazing": a high-risk behavior.

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Center for Behavioral Change, Richmond, VA 23294, USA.



Gastric bypass patients with a range of disturbed eating patterns before surgery may be at risk of returning to old patterns postoperatively. Recent research has shown that binge eating is common among the obese before surgery as well as in the postoperative maintenance phase and appears to be linked to poorer outcome. Although "grazing" behavior has not been specifically studied, it is also a high-risk pattern. This paper is a descriptive investigation summarizing postoperative eating patterns in a group of patients.


Patients completed self-report questionnaires before surgery and were seen for a preoperative mental health evaluation with particular focus on assessing eating patterns. Patients with high-risk eating patterns, both binge eating and "grazing", were identified, invited to attend a post-surgery therapy group, and were given additional follow-up questionnaires regarding postoperative eating patterns.


Consistent with recent studies, many high-risk patients reported recurrent loss of control over eating and, in some cases, subsequent weight gain. Although no longer able to eat large amounts, "grazing" became a more common pattern, appearing >or=6 months following surgery.


Different forms of overeating need to be assessed in this population, focusing on the subjective loss of control rather than on the quantity consumed. Although many patients do not meet strict criteria for binge eating disorder before surgery, these "grazers" are also high-risk. Former binge eaters often turn into "grazers" following surgery. Interventions are needed for at-risk patients.

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