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J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2017 Jul;27(7):669-675. doi: 10.1089/lap.2017.0157. Epub 2017 May 30.

Trends in the Prevalence of Severe Obesity and Bariatric Surgery Access: A State-Level Analysis from 2011 to 2014.

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1 Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health , Madison, Wisconsin.
2 Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health , Madison, Wisconsin.
3 Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Veterans Affairs Medical Center , Durham, North Carolina.
4 Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center , Durham, North Carolina.
5 Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin , Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
6 Department of Surgery, Gundersen Health System , La Crosse, Wisconsin.
7 William S. Middleton Veterans Affairs Memorial Hospital , Madison, Wisconsin.



Understanding what proportion of the eligible population is undergoing bariatric surgery at the state level provides critical insight into characterizing bariatric surgery access. We sought to describe statewide trends in severe obesity demographics and report bariatric surgery volume in Wisconsin from 2011 to 2014.


Self-reported data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) were used to calculate prevalence rates of severe obesity (class II and III) in Wisconsin. Bariatric surgery volume data were analyzed from the Wisconsin Hospital Association. A survey was sent to all American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery member bariatric surgeons in Wisconsin to assess perspectives on bariatric surgery access, insurance coverage, and referral processes.


The prevalence of severe obesity in Wisconsin increased by 30% from 2011 to 2014 (10.4%-13.2%; Pā€‰=ā€‰.035); the odds of severe obesity nearly doubled for adults age 20-39 (odds ratio [OR] 1.9, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-3.0). During this time, the volume of bariatric surgery declined by 4.2%; (1432 to 1372; Pā€‰<ā€‰.001), whereas the rates of bariatric surgery per 1000 persons with severe obesity declined by 25.7% (3.5 to 2.6/1000). A majority (72%) of bariatric surgeon respondents felt bariatric surgery access either worsened or remained the same over the last 4 years.


Severe obesity increased significantly in Wisconsin over a 4-year period, whereas bariatric surgery rates among severely obese persons have remained largely unchanged and are substantially below the national average. Combining the state-level obesity survey data and bariatric surgery administrative data may be a useful approach for tracking bariatric surgery access throughout the United States.


bariatric surgery; population-level obesity trends; severe obesity

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