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For Release:
May 02, 2007

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Nathan Rudy

DHSS Releases Second Report On Bariatric Surgery in New Jersey [Updated with URL]


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) today released its second report on the trends and outcomes for bariatric surgeries in the Garden State. The report, based on the initial report released two years ago, includes new data from 2005 to assist in addressing the rapid growth in this procedure over the past decade.

"The Department has created this report and has made it public so that New Jersey residents considering such care can determine if the risks and benefits are right for them, said DHSS Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D. "It is important to remember that bariatric surgery is not for everyone and it is one tool available for people who are obese.

Approximately ten years ago bariatric surgery became more prevalent in the Garden State, with more health care facilities offering the procedure and more patients requesting it. The number of such surgeries has since leveled off to approximately 4,500 a year, which suggests the practice has matured in New Jersey.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2005 data, 37.1 percent of New Jersey residents are overweight (BMI from 25 to 29.9), and 22.1 percent are obese (BMI greater than 30). New Jersey's percentage of overweight residents is higher than the national average, while the percentage of obese residents is lower.

The report includes data for every New Jersey hospital performing bariatric surgery, including volume, total days in the hospital after surgery, readmissions, complications and mortality.

The study found a relationship between volume of bariatric surgery by a health care practitioner and positive outcomes. High volume hospitals had both lower readmission and 30 day mortality rates than lower volume facilities. Surgeons who performed a large number of bariatric surgeries had better 30- and 180-day post-surgery mortality rates.

"New Jerseyans should discuss all options for weight loss with their physicians to determine the proper and healthiest course of care," said Dr. Jacobs. "If the decision is made to have bariatric surgery, the patient can consult the report about volume, experience and outcomes before making a final decision regarding their procedure."

According to clinical guidelines developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Expert Panel, surgical intervention for obesity is recommended only for people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, approximately 100 or more pounds overweight. Those with a slightly lower BMI, between 35 and 40, with at least one obesity related co-morbidity are also recommended for the procedure.

The NHLBI recommendations suggest that not all obese people should consider bariatric surgery as an option for weight management. For all people seeking to reduce their BMI, changes to diet and exercise are also required even if surgery is considered.

DHSS began monitoring bariatric surgery in 1998, when the state saw a rapid rise in the volume of procedures and a series of well-publicized cases of serious complications and even death resulting. A workgroup was formed to best determine how DHSS should respond to concerns over the growth of the surgery, and one of its recommendations was the development of this ongoing series of reports.

[The full report is available at]


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