Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix for obesity and patients need extra support, possibly on an ongoing basis, according to award-winning research by a Coventry University student.
BSc dietetics graduate Mariha Ansari’s final year research project as part of her degree investigated the eating and weight loss experiences of patients following bariatric surgery, winning her an award at the British Dietetic Association Research Symposium – an annual event that celebrates cutting-edge research.
Bariatric surgery is becoming a more readily available weight loss procedure which can be accessed through the NHS, but since it involves patients embarking on complex, long-term health journeys, Mariha hopes her research can shed light on what those journeys could look like and entail.
According to Mariha’s research, bariatric surgery is only part of the solution to obesity for many, with a number of patients finding themselves contending with an array of challenges such as difficulties in maintaining dietary changes and body dysmorphia due to the onset of excess skin from significant weight loss following the procedure. These profound difficulties signify how surgery is not necessarily a quick fix to the problems associated with obesity and that the journey to a healthier life after surgery can be an ongoing one.
She said: ‘Receiving this award was a huge honour. I took a brave step in submitting my research abstract to the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and when I heard back that my abstract had been selected for presentation at the symposium, this in itself was a surprise. Receiving an award for it as well was the icing on the cake.
‘A lot of hard work went into this project, but I always say that it would not have been possible without the support I had around me. Coventry University’s dietetics teaching team and my project supervisor Sarah Serjeant played a crucial role in sharing vital knowledge and research throughout my four years of studies. I also cannot thank my family and friends enough for their continued emotional support, and to the BDA who gave me a platform to share my research.’
Coventry University’s BSc Dietetics programme was designed following extensive consultation with alumni, local service users and dietitians to prepare students for a range of careers in public health, community, media and other sectors. Mariha now hopes to pursue a professional career in dietetics, thanks to her experience on the course and passion for the subject.
She also hopes to use her studies to secure additional hands-on experience within bariatrics as well as having ambitions to take her research forward and develop it into a piece that could be published.