Lap Band reprimand prompts County Supes to educate residents

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A recent federal reprimand against eight Southland Lap Band surgery centers and their marketing firm prompted the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to take action Tuesday. Supervisors say they are trying to protect Southland residents from health risks associated with the gastric weight loss procedure.

The LA County supervisors directed attorneys to study greater regulation of the ubiquitous 1-800-GET-THIN billboard ads throughout the county and are also seeking state legislation for more oversight of outpatient surgical centers. Their actions follow the Food and Drug Administration’s reprimand this month against the 1-800-GET-THIN marketing company and eight surgical centers for failure to warn consumers about serious risks associated with lap-band surgery.

Since 2009, five Southland residents have died from the procedure, says LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

"Our concerns are public safety. Our concerns are public health. And to the extent the FDA has made it abundantly clear they have serious concerns – warning tantamount to sanctions about these concerning billboards, we ought to be concerned," Ridley-Thomas explained.

Ridley-Thomas says the county also will launch a campaign to educate residents about the risks of invasive weight loss surgery.

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