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Bariatric Surgery

Changes in relationship status following bariatric surgery


Background and objective

Bariatric surgery is a major event associated with psychological changes such as improvements in self-esteem, increased autonomy, and better self-value. Such changes could affect the patient’s interpersonal relationships; however, little is known about the impact of bariatric surgery on changes in relationship status. In this paper, we aim to test the hypothesis that bariatric surgery is associated with changes in interpersonal relationships such as becoming single for those who were in a relationship or entering a relationship among those who were single before surgery.


This register-based cohort study consisted of 12,493 patients undergoing bariatric surgery (95% gastric bypass) from 2005 to 2013 and a reference group of 15,101 individuals with obesity between the age of 18–63 with a body mass index between 32 and 60 kg/m2. Transitions between married, divorced, widowed, never-married single, and living with a partner without being married were analyzed by Poisson regression. Additionally, the outcome was dichotomized, and transitions between being single and being in a relationship were also analyzed. All analyses were weighted using inverse probability of treatment weighting based on propensity scores.


The overall incidence rate ratio (IRR) of changing status from being single to in a relationship was 2.03 (95% CI: 1.18–2.28), and the overall IRR of changing status from being in a relationship to single was 1.66 (95% CI: 1.50–1.83).


Bariatric surgery is associated with a higher chance of finding a partner among single individuals, and a higher risk of separating from a partner among individuals in a relationship.

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Fig. 1: Balance of covariates.
Fig. 2: The effects of age and education on chances of entering a new relationship.
Fig. 3: The effects of age and education on the risk of becoming single.

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Author information

Authors and Affiliations



MB and JST designed the study. JST performed analysis. MB and JST interpreted data and MB, SSH, and JST drafted the article. All authors actively contributed to the final manuscript by revising it critically for important intellectual content and approved the final version to be published. The corresponding author attests that all listed authors meet authorship criteria and that no others meeting the criteria have been omitted.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Janne S. Tolstrup.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing interests.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency reference number 2015-57-0008. Manual chart review with data collection was performed with the approval of Danish Patient Safety Authority (former National Board of Health) with reference number 3-3013-770/1.

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Bramming, M., Hviid, S.S., Becker, U. et al. Changes in relationship status following bariatric surgery. Int J Obes 45, 1599–1606 (2021).

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