Home Research Site

About Us

LABS Factsheet

Bariatric surgical procedures, which restrict stomach size and/or lead to decreased absorption of nutrients, are being increasingly performed to treat extreme obesity. These procedures can have dramatic benefits, such as improved control of blood sugar or even reversal of type 2 diabetes, but also carry substantial risks, including death. Although an increasing number of persons with extreme obesity are undergoing bariatric surgical procedures, there has been little systematic research to help determine the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery, or to provide guidance on appropriate patient selection. To facilitate and accelerate research in this area, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) established a bariatric surgery clinical research consortium, now known as the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery, or LABS.

The NIH has brought together the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery researchers with expertise in bariatric surgery, obesity research, internal medicine, endocrinology, behavioral science, outcomes research, epidemiology, and other relevant fields to collaboratively plan and conduct studies that ultimately led to better understanding of bariatric surgery and its impact on the health and well-being of patients with extreme obesity.

Through a competitive, peer-reviewed process, six clinical centers and a data coordinating center were funded in September, 2003. A steering committee, which is the governing body of the consortium, composed of the principal investigators at the clinical centers and data coordinating center as well as the NIH project coordinator met on a frequent basis during the initial years of funding to develop the database and plan the clinical protocols. After that, conference calls were held on a monthly basis and meetings were held bi-annually. In addition to the principal investigators, scientists and clinicians from the participating centers with relevant expertise participated in committees and working groups. The Clinical Centers, Data Coordinating Center, and NIH worked together to develop common clinical protocols.

The consortium developed a database for collecting standardized information on patients undergoing bariatric surgery at the participating clinical centers. This database has greatly assisted in developing evidence-based information regarding the risks and benefits of bariatric surgery. Rigorously collected information on patient characteristics, surgical procedures, medical and psychosocial outcomes, and economic factors ultimately led to the development of rational recommendations for clinical care.

LABS also supported clinical studies, as proposed, designed, and approved by the Steering Committee. Among many, these include the impact of bariatric surgery on insulin resistance and resolution of type 2 diabetesand mechanisms by which bariatric surgery may enhance long-term weight maintenance. Other studies use bariatric surgery as a model to better understand the causes of and potential treatments for obesity. For example, examining the impact of restrictive versus malabsorptive surgical procedures on hormones presumed to affect appetite may provide insights that will lead to new, non-surgical treatments of obesity that mimic the appetite-suppressive effects of surgery. A repository of data and biological specimens for future research also has been collected by the centers participating in LABS. These will provide valuable resources for future study of obesity and its complications.