MODESTO -- The number of people getting weight loss surgery continues to rise in California, where nearly one in four residents are considered obese, a state agency reported this week.
The mortality rate at the 94 California hospitals where bariatric surgeries are performed remained low, at 1.5 deaths per 1,000 surgeries, or about 20 deaths per year.
The surgery count rose by nearly 7 percent from 2005 to 2009, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, which did a study looking at the types of bariatric surgery, costs and patient safety.
The health group found that people seeking bariatric surgery commonly suffered from health conditions related to being severely overweight — such as nutritional and metabolic disorders, high blood pressure, joint problems, sleep apnea or diabetes — that can be relieved by the weight loss that comes after the surgery.
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The operation often involves shrinking the stomach and bypassing a portion of the small intestine, so the person eats less and absorbs fewer nutrients. It's recommended for people with a body mass index of 30 or more and at least one serious medical condition after not losing weight through dieting.
"Californians should discuss all options for weight loss with their physicians to determine the most appropriate course of care," said the health group's acting director, Stephanie Clendenin.
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