FDA Considers Lap-Band Surgery for the Less Obese
Proposal could double number of eligible Americans
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2010 8:22 AM CST
The FDA is considering lowering the threshold for lap-band surgery eligibility.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – Weight-loss surgery may soon become a lot more common, as the FDA considers a request to lower the weight threshold for Lap-Band patients. Allergan, the company that makes the band, wants to reduce the minimum BMI from 40 to 35, which could double the number of Americans eligible for the operation. If a proposed patient has other obesity-related health problems, the BMI limit could be even lower: Currently, a 5'6" patient with diabetes would need to weigh 216 pounds to qualify for the surgery; under the proposed new threshold, the patient would only need to weigh 186 pounds.

Since new diet pills haven't been approved by the FDA, Allergan is assuming more Americans will want to skip right to surgery, the New York Times reports. "You’re talking about millions and millions of people who would meet these criteria,” says one nutrition expert, voicing concerns held by many that the surgery may not be safe or effective enough. Another doctor is skeptical about the idea that people "can go from Weight Watchers to surgery and have nothing in-between," he says. "But it appears it may be the way it will be in the near future.” Younger patients are already drawn to the surgery—click here for more.