Changes in the digestive tract after bariatric surgery may alter eating experience, including food enjoyment and tolerability


In 2016-17, we recruited 1,654 pre-bariatric surgery patients from a large healthcare system. They completed a baseline survey by phone or online, including a number of psychosocial measures. We extracted other measures from the EHR including sex, age & BMI. One year after surgery, 1,197 (72%) participants completed a follow-up survey, including a 27-item instrument about post-operative changes in perceived enjoyment, craving (more, less, no change, never ate) and symptoms of physical illness after eating (yes, no, not sure, never eat), for 9 food categories: dairy, lean proteins, high-fat meats, grains, sweet baked goods, fresh fruits and vegetables (FV), candy/desserts, salty snacks, and sweetened beverages (SSB). We calculated descriptive statistics for all items


Survey respondents were 86% female, 41% non-Hispanic White, with a mean (sd) age of 43.1 (11.3) years and preoperative BMI of 43.4 (6.8) kg/m2. Following surgery, the most common categories for which participants reported greater enjoyment were FV (55.8%) and lean proteins (50.9%). In contrast, the majority reported less enjoyment of high-fat meats (68.8%), grains (62.8%), candy/dessert (56.4%), and sweet bakery products (55.2%). The most common categories for which participants reported decreased cravings were high fat meats (63.1%), grains (55.1%), SSB (52.7%) and candy/dessert (51.7%). A plurality of participants indicated symptoms of physical illness after eating high-fat meats (50.0%), sweet bakery products (43.6%) and candy/dessert (41.0%)


Post-operative changes in eating experience were common in this large cohort of bariatric patients, generally favoring a shift towards greater enjoyment of healthier foods and less enjoyment of higher-fat, higher-added sugar items. Additional analyses will examine durability of these changes, and association with differential weight loss