Researchers reveal how local grocery stores affect patients post weight-loss surgery

columbus [Ohio]March 12 (ANI): The ability to walk to a nearby grocery store may be a key factor in determining a patient's long-term weight loss after bariatric surgery.

Still, the researchers found that simply living near a grocery store isn't a surefire path to long-term weight loss, especially when the market is dominated by processed convenience foods.

The findings were published in the journals Surgery of Obesity and Related Disorders and Bariatric Surgery.

Overall, an analysis of data from hundreds of bariatric surgery patients in central Ohio showed an association between proximity to food stores and better weight loss two years after surgery.

Taking a closer look at a store's offerings influenced whether that proximity was beneficial, showing that living within a five-minute walk of a store with poor-quality food was actually associated with weight loss two years after surgery.

“Proximity to lower-quality stores predicted less weight loss, but closer proximity to higher-quality stores did not predict greater weight loss,” said Keeley Pratt, associate professor of humanities at Ohio State University and lead author of both studies. These findings are presented. “So the low-quality stores did lead to poor outcomes.” The research team examined neighborhood characteristics and other social determinants of health that might help or hinder sustained weight loss up to two years after bariatric surgery.

The analysis included select data from the electronic health records of all patients who underwent bariatric surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Franklin County, Ohio, between 2015 and 2019. Data included race, type of insurance, procedure, and percent overall weight loss 2 to 24 months after surgery.

The researchers combined health records with census and county data, which allowed the team to not only count the number of food stores, parks/recreation areas, and fitness facilities in the county, but also precisely calculate their location in relation to the patient's home address.

Bariatric surgery, which reduces the size of the stomach and causes rapid weight loss, requires patients to eat small amounts of soft foods initially, then gradually transition back to a more varied diet, with six months of guidance from a dietitian and a nurse practitioner.

“Then what we're seeing is from six months to a year and a year later, if the food intake increases due to not maintaining healthy behaviors or going back to previously unhealthy foods, then the weight may rebound,” Pratt said. He also serves as a general surgery faculty member, said. “That being said, it doesn't mean patients have ready access to something they can eat where they live – that's the connection we're trying to make clear. Our patients know what to eat, so it's not an education or knowledge problem, but it may be an access problem.” (Arney)

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