Do you find that you are running into more potential clients who have had weight loss surgery? According to a study in the July 12 issue of Health Affairs (2005; 24 [4], 1039–46), the number of Americans having bariatric surgery more than quintupled between 1998 and 2002—from 13,386 to 71,733. Hospital costs for treating these patients during the same period increased from $157 million to $948 million a year. The average cost per surgery increased by roughly 13%, from $11,705 to $13,215.

The study authors suggest that future demand for this type of surgery might rise substantially as safety concerns fade. (In-hospital death rates among bariatric-surgery patients fell by 64% between 1998 and 2002.) IDEA member Linda Nenninger lives in Bozrah, Connecticut, and trains several clients who have undergone the procedure. She cautions other personal trainers to work very closely with doctors and registered dietitians when designing a program for clients like these. “Clients have to know that this is part of a bigger lifestyle change and you are there to support them,” Nenninger says.