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Study to Evaluate Cannabis Use in Bariatric Surgery Patients

Researchers hope to examine increased use of cannabis during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Newberry, Fla. -- The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) Foundation today announced it has awarded two research grants totaling $50,000 to study the effects of obesity on COVID-19 infections in adolescents and the increasing use of adult cannabis during and after the pandemic and its potential impact on weight loss outcomes following bariatric surgery.

"These latest grants are for studies on the impact of COVID-19 and emerging areas of interest that have thus far received little scientific study," said Paul Enochs, MD, President, ASMBS Foundation. "Our support for them reflects our enduring commitment, and that of our donors, to help fuel innovative research that advances the scientific understanding of the disease of obesity and its treatment."

The ASMBS Foundation has been sponsoring important research on obesity and bariatric surgery since 2004. Previous grant recipients have studied the short-term impact of bariatric surgery on systemic inflammation in asthma patients, the effect of sleeve gastrectomy on obesity-induced heart failure, and the determinants of Type 2 diabetes remission after bariatric surgery. This year's recipients will each receive $25,000 for their studies.

"I am so honored to have been chosen for this year's ASMBS Foundation research grant. It will support a study that will help both providers and patients better understand the influence of cannabis use after bariatric surgery and whether it impacts eating behaviors and long-term weight loss outcomes," said Lisa R. Matero, Ph.D., ABPP, Director, Health Psychology Fellowship Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

"Pediatric and adolescent populations with obesity are at high risk for severe COVID-19 infection and novel therapeutic interventions are lacking. This study aims to reveal the molecular and cellular underpinnings that influence increased viral susceptibility in these individuals to aid in the future development of effective therapies," said Christine Finck, MD, Chief, Division of Pediatric General and Thoracic Surgery at Connecticut Children's Hospital in Hartford. "The grant for this study will help us accomplish our long-term goal of improving the overall quality of life for pediatric patients with obesity."

Metabolic/bariatric surgery has been shown to be the most effective and long-lasting treatment for severe obesity, resulting in significant weight loss and resolution or improvements in diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and many other obesity-related diseases. Its safety profile is comparable to some of the safest and most commonly performed surgeries in the U.S. including gallbladder surgery, appendectomy, and knee replacement. An estimated 256,000 bariatric surgeries were performed in 2019, according to the ASMBS, which represents less than 1% of the currently eligible surgical population-based on body mass index (BMI).

The CDC reports 42.4% of adults in the U.S. had obesity in 2017-2018. Another 9.2% had severe obesity. Obesity is linked to more than 40 diseases including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, and at least 13 different types of cancer.

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