August 25th, 2007

red panda eating bamboo

I'm channeling Don Quixote today

I'm channeling Don Quixote today and I posted the following in (which you can only read if you're a panix member), which isn't a place well known for careful or respectful readers. It will probably only get scoffed at there, so I figured I would post it here too.

Recent news reports discuss two recent medium-term studies on weight-loss surgery. The Wall Street Journal article about the studies is here. Begin post:

The US study's control group isn't people, it's driver's licenses. So it doesn't control for socioeconomic status. During the period of time the study was conducted, insurance companies usually didn't pay for the operation. The operation costs $20,000 and up. Therefore the people having the surgery were relatively wealthy. Wealthy people have better health than poor people because they have better access to health care and less stress. As for the supposedly "matching" weights of the control group -- well, I don't know anyone who puts their real weight on a drivers license, or bothers to change the weight on their license when their real weight changes. So the control group is pretty meaningless.

The Swedish study showed a 1 percent lower risk of death (5% instead of 6%) for the surgical group over either 7 or 10 years, I forget which. Given that the surgery carries a double-digit risk of side effects that put a person back in the hospital (even bariatric surgeons admit this), it doesn't seem like the improvement in odds is worth getting the surgery for.

Both studies showed that the surgery patients had a 1.5 times greater risk of dying from accidents or suicide than the non-surgery patients. As far as I know, the studies didn't bother to look into this phenomenon, but two possible causes: the surgery and its attendant malnutrition is known to increase the risk of mental problems, and some malnutrition is known to increase the risk of mental problems, and some surgery patients develop alcoholism. Also, some of the surgery side effects are very painful. (I know someone who had the surgery and committed suicide in part because she developed rickets, which are very painful.)

red panda eating bamboo


I started writing up my trip to Monterey, but I feel kind of lazy about it. If you want my thoughts about any of the following, please comment and I'll expand this post or write a new post:

  • Clarion Hotel on Munras
  • Del Monte Center shopping mall
  • Old Fisherman's Wharf
  • Otters
  • Pelicans
  • Monterey County Fair and wool show
  • "London Pub" restaurant
  • Wild Plum Cafe
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium or its exhibits: Kelp Forest, Jellies: Living Art, jellies in general, anchovies in general, Outer Bay, gift shop
  • El Estero Park
  • Animal Planet and History Channel TV shows watched
  • Knitting projects worked on