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Clinical observations in developing countries and experimental studies in animals suggest that preoperative weight loss adversely affects postoperative morbidity. Since it is not clear whether these findings can be applied to surgical series in European countries, we have studied 106 surgically-treated patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Patients were divided into three groups according to the degree of preoperative weight loss. The groups were well matched in all other respects. Postoperative morbidity was monitored independently. The outcome in all three groups was similar so that in these patients, at least, preoperative weight loss did not adversely affect the postoperative outcome.