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Obes Res Clin Pract. 2016 Jan-Feb;10(1):56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.orcp.2015.03.006. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

Pursuing bariatric surgery in an urban area: Gender and racial disparities and risk for psychiatric symptoms.

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Behavioral Health, Henry Ford Health System, United States. Electronic address:
Behavioral Health, Henry Ford Health System, United States.
General Surgery, Henry Ford Health System, United States.



Bariatric surgery is effective for weight loss; however, only a small percentage of those who qualify choose to pursue it. Additionally, although psychiatric symptoms appear to be common among candidates, the risk factors for symptoms are not known. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the characteristics of those who are pursuing bariatric surgery in an urban area, whether demographic disparities continue to exist, and identify characteristics of those who may be at higher risk for experiencing psychiatric symptoms.


There were 424 bariatric candidates who completed a required psychological evaluation prior to bariatric surgery.


Bariatric surgery candidates tended to be middle-aged, Caucasian females, which was unexpected when compared to the rates of obesity among these groups. Therefore, it appears that there are disparities in who chooses to seek out bariatric surgery compared to those who may qualify due to their obesity status. Cultural factors may play a role in why males and African Americans seek out bariatric surgery less frequently. Psychiatric symptoms among candidates are also common, with depression symptoms increasing with age and BMI. Perhaps the compounding effects of medical comorbidities over time are contributing to greater depressive symptoms in the older patients. Findings from this study suggest that we may need to explore ways of encouraging younger patients, males, and ethnic minorities to pursue bariatric surgery to increase weight loss success and decrease medical comorbidities.


Anxiety; Bariatric surgery; Depression; Disparities

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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