Study Links Bariatric Surgery to Improved Memory

string tied around index fingerNew research found that bariatric surgery patients had a significant improvement in memory function three months after surgery. The study was conducted by Gladys Strain, PhD, director of research for laparoscopic and bariatric surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, who says that bariatric surgery’s effects on cognition have not been well studied before this.

Strain’s study compared 120 bariatric surgery patients (most with gastric bypass and some with lap band) and 60 obese patients who did not undergo surgery. Patients were tested for attention, executive function, memory and language skills before and after surgery, within a 12-week period.

There were no changes for attention, executive function and language skills during the three-month period. However, there was improvement in memory among the bariatric surgery patients, which was not found in the comparison group.

While it’s not clear why the patients’ memories improved, Strain speculates it could be because of a decrease in depression after weight loss surgery. “Bariatric patients have an increased incidence of depressive disorders and anxiety and sedentary lifestyles,” Strain explains. As they lose weight, that depression may lift, perhaps explaining the improvement in cognitive skills, she says.

Read more about this study on WebMD.