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UCD scientists collaborate in international €2.5m gastric bypass weight loss study

Posted May 20, 2016

  • Bariatric surgery enables patients to maintain weight loss for several decades
  • Procedure also reduces heart attacks by up to a quarter and cancer by a third

The US-Ireland Research and Development Funding Programme has awarded €2.5 million in funding to researchers at University College Dublin, Ulster University and Florida State University to investigate the benefits of gastric bypass surgery for obese patients.

The study will attempt to determine if weight loss following gastric bypass or bariatric surgery is due solely to changes in appetite and food choices, or if it is also linked with changes in metabolic rate – the amount of energy expended while at rest.

Gastric bypass involves surgery that creates a shortcut from the gullet to the small bowel, thus increasing the signals that create satiety and reducing the intake of food.

Studies have shown that bariatric surgery consistently enables patients to lose 25 per cent of their weight and maintain the weight loss for several decades.

Pictured right: Prof Carel Le Roux, UCD Diabetes Complications Research,
UCD School of Medicine.

Bariatric surgery is considered to be about as safe as hip replacements or gall bladder surgery, but the gains are much more beneficial for overall health. Many patients achieve a cure for type 2 diabetes, mobility problems and sleep apnoea. Studies have shown that it also reduces heart attacks by up to a quarter and cancer by a third.

The UCD team includes Professor Carel Le Roux, Dr Neil Docherty and Dr Audrey Melvin, all from the UCD School of Medicine.

“Losing weight is relatively easy in comparison with maintaining weight loss,” said Prof Le Roux, at the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre in the UCD School of Medicine, who is one of the scientists involved in the collaboration.

“Understanding how gastric bypass surgery works and why it is so easy for patients after surgery to make essential behavioural changes may be the key to helping more people achieve long-term success with and without surgery.”

The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across the United States, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Health Research Board is funding the Irish aspect of the study.

The funding agencies in the three countries combine resources to enable the best researchers from Ireland and the USA to work together on research to address critical issues and generate valuable discoveries that will impact on patient care.

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations