Patient experiences of weight loss and eating after bariatric surgery: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis

Mariha Ansari, Sarah Serjeant

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


Background: An estimated 26% of men and 29% of women in the UK are living with obesity according to recent statistics. Bariatric Surgery (BS) can induce significant weight loss and improve co-morbidity status. However previous studies highlight challenges in maintaining dietary changes and weight loss. This systematic review aimed to investigate patient experiences of weight loss and eating in the first two years following surgery, to provide clinical recommendations to support this group.

Methods: Ethical approval was granted by the University. A systematic search was conducted in four databases. Studies were selected according to the predefined eligibility criteria and methodological quality, assessed via the CASP tool. Data were extracted and analysed using a thematic synthesis method. Rigour was enhanced via use of a data extraction tool, a validated method for data synthesis, peer-review and transparent reporting.

Results: In total, 507 records were screened; nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The thematic synthesis yielded four, interlinked analytical themes based on 154 patients' experiences: relationship with food, relationship with oneself, relationship with others and unfinished journey. Positive experiences were reported including development of healthy eating behaviours and significant weight loss, improving physical and psychosocial wellbeing. On the other hand, challenges in adjusting to life after surgery were also reported.

Conclusions: This study highlighted the need for personalised dietary advice, addressing the psychological aspects of eating. Support should be extended to the family. Ongoing psychological support must be incorporated in the post-surgery care pathway to help patients deal with the negative outcomes of surgery such as excess skin. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1438-1450
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number4
Early online date30 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

© 2022 British Dietetic Association.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative
Commons Attribution License (,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited..


  • bariatric surgery
  • meta-synthesis
  • obesity
  • patient experience
  • psychological health
  • qualitative


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