The preoperative and 3 and 12 months postoperative nutritional status and weight reduction were investigated in 150 patients submitted for LSG surgery. As anticipated, BMI was significantly reduced 3 and 12 months postoperatively. The %EWL 12 months post surgery was reduced by 72.1, which is comparable to findings reported by others for patients with similar pre surgery BMI (Brethauer et al. 2009). Correspondingly, WC was significantly reduced after surgery, although the mean WC one year after surgery for 78% of our patients was still above the action level by WHO set at ≥102 cm for men and ≥88 cm for women (WHO 1997).
The median energy intake 3 months after surgery was very low (2971 kJ/day), but was significantly increased after 12 months (3840 kJ/day), which is an important finding as very little is known about the caloric intake after LSG. Our findings are comparable to findings in a small study (N = 21) reporting a median intake of 3266 kJ/day three months after longitudinal gastrectomy (Almogy et al. 2004). The increased energy intake over time in the present study may be explained by an improved food tolerance (Overs et al. 2012), intake of more energy dense food and probably also a certain moderate widening of the gastric tube.
The low energy intake the first years post surgery is challenging for the LSG patients as they need both a detailed dietary plan and dietary supplements to achieve sufficient intake of macro and micro nutrients, since it is difficult to meet the daily requirements of vitamins and minerals with a daily energy intake below 8.4 MJ (FAO/WHO 2001). Also, the removal of most of the fundus and hence the reduction in parietal cells, in addition to nausea, vomiting and food intolerance experienced by some put LSG patients at high risk for nutrient deficiencies. It has been suggested that LSG has little impact on macronutrient deficiency since the procedure is restrictive and therefore does not alter the absorption in the small intestine (Baltasar et al. 2005). However, after LSG the stomach contents may empty more rapidly into the small intestine (Melissas et al. 2007), which in turn may reduce the bioavailability and absorption of nutrients. Although the median albumin level was decreased, the serum albumin level was normal in the majority of our patients both preoperatively and postoperatively, and thus one can assume that in general the patients had an overall sufficient protein intake after one year, which is in line with findings by others (Damms-Machado et al. 2012; Hamoui et al. 2006).
Generally, LSG is believed not to cause fat malabsorption and thus the absorption of fat soluble vitamins should not be affected. Vitamin E deficiency was observed in four patients before and in only one patient one year after surgery, and median levels were similar at these time points. The prevalence of patients with vitamin D deficiency was high (47%) possibly caused by reduced bioavailability of vitamin D due to sequestration by adipose tissue (Wortsman et al. 2000). However, neither the median vitamin D level nor the prevalence of patients with vitamin D within the reference range were changed as patients lost weight. The patients were advised to take vitamin D supplements, but due to the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency one can assume a low compliance or low bioavailability as has been observed by others after LSG (Capoccia et al. 2012). It is essential that the vitamin D level is within the normal range for sufficient intestinal calcium uptake, and a lack of vitamin D will lead to a negative calcium balance and thus change bone metabolism, and may cause a compensatory rise in PTH to promote bone resorption (Aarts et al. 2011). Hyperparathyroidism has been observed in a large proportion (25-48%) of morbidly obese subjects (Hamoui et al. 2004; Carlin et al. 2006), and in the present study 18% of the patients had PTH above normal range. After one year, the median PTH level was significantly increased without affecting the prevalence of patients with PTH above reference range, and the vitamin D and PTH levels were significant inversely correlated (p < 0.01) both before and one year after surgery. The reduction in calcium level, despite the patients were instructed to take calcium supplements, is probably caused by the reduced intake of calcium containing food since these patients have a low energy intake after surgery, whereas the unchanged vitamin D level is likely due to patients taking supplements as food itself is a less important source for this vitamin in this population.
The absorption of cobalamin from food is dependent on the presence of intrinsic factor and HCl, therefore the resection of fundus may result in cobalamin deficiency postoperatively if patients are not treated with oral supplementations or injections of cobalamin (Capoccia et al. 2012). Bariatric patients struggle with the digestion of protein rich food in particular red meat (Elliot 2003) which is a good source of cobalamin, and the protein intake is reported to be below the recommended level for a high proportion of patients after LSG (Andreu et al. 2010). Despite that, an increased cobalamin level was observed one year after surgery, possibly due to patients' use of cobalamin supplements or injections as advised by health personnel after LSG, however the prevalence of abnormal cobalamin levels was not significantly changed. This is in contrast to findings by others (Hakeam et al. 2009) reporting an increased prevalence of low cobalamin levels one year after LSG. Folate deficiency is not common after LSG, since this vitamin can be absorbed throughout the intestine, and therefore the observed low folate level post surgery is probably a result of low intake of food rich in this vitamin, such as legumes and green leafy vegetables, and not due to reduced intestinal uptake. A significant decrease in the prevalence of abnormal folate level from before surgery was observed in the present study, and folate deficiency was present in only 8% of the patients 12 months after surgery which is comparable with findings by others (Hakeam et al. 2009).
Obese patients usually have a chronic low-grade inflammatory condition, and this may affect many of the biochemical and hormonal processes in the body, and it has been have shown that LSG may improve the immune status (Hakeam et al. 2009; Esposito et al. 2003). Before surgery, about one third of our patients had elevated CRP levels, and one year after surgery this prevalence was markedly reduced to 10%, which is line with finding by others (Hakeam et al. 2009). Concomitant with lower CRP level, the reduced serum uric acid level also suggests an improvement of the inflammatory status (Gagliardi et al. 2009) in these patients.
Several studies confirm the efficiency of LSG in treatment of diabetes mellitus type 2 in morbidly obese patients (Rosenthal et al. 2009; Lee et al. 2010). One year after LSG, the glycemic control was significantly improved, with lower fasting glucose, insulin, insulin c-peptide, HOMA-IR and HbA1c and increased prevalence of patients within the normal range of these parameters except for insulin c-peptide, probably as a result of weight loss. Concomitant with this, a significant reduction in the number of patients with medically regulated diabetes and lower prevalence of type 2 diabetes were seen 12 months after surgery.
As an indirect measure of the improved nutritional status, and probably as a result of weight loss in the patients, the circulating levels of HDL cholesterol was significantly increased and that of triacylglycerol was significantly decreased, which is in line with findings by others (Benaiges et al. 2012). All patients had HDL levels above of 0.9 mmol/L one year after surgery, which is the threshold level defined by WHO (WHO 1999) for HDL cholesterol for metabolic syndrome, thus these findings suggests that our patients had a reduced risk of developing this syndrome one year after surgery.
There are some limitations to this study. First, not all patients completed medical examinations after 3 or 12 months, and we have no information about why these did not complete the protocol. Second, obese patients are known to under-report their dietary intake (Lissner et al. 2000) and therefore the estimated energy intake based on the 24 h recall interviews may be lower than the actual intake.
In conclusion, based on the data obtained 12 months after surgery, LSG has significant effect on weight loss and appears to be an effective treatment of morbid obesity, probably mediated through low energy intake. Despite the low energy intake, the patients' nutritional status did not worsen one year after surgery. The long term effect on weight loss, energy intake and nutritional status of the LSG procedure should be further investigated.