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Apr 17, 2014

Weight Loss Surgery Helps Manage Diabetes

Weight loss surgery helps obese patients with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, according to research.

Weight loss surgery is a useful treatment option for obese patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Part of the STAMPEDE trial, this study included 150 obese patients with type 2 diabetes—the most common type of diabetes that affects nearly 25 million Americans. By comparing traditional diabetes therapy (counseling, lifestyle changes and medication) with weight loss surgery, researchers hoped to determine which treatment was more effective in helping manage blood sugar levels. Maintaining normal blood sugar is often the primary goal of diabetes treatment because it helps patients to live longer, healthier lives. And for obese patients with diabetes, losing weight is one of the best ways to help control blood sugar and improve outcomes.

After randomly selecting participants to receive standard therapy or standard therapy plus a weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery or sleeve gastrectomy), researchers followed patients for three years. Not surprisingly, investigators found that patients undergoing weight loss surgery had much better control of their blood sugar levels than those using traditional therapy only. After three years, only 5% of patients receiving standard therapy had “normal” blood sugar levels, compared to 25% of those undergoing sleeve gastrectomy and 38% of patients receiving gastric bypass. Interestingly, patients undergoing weight loss surgery were much less likely to need blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs after three years.

These findings are extremely encouraging for both experts and patients living with type 2 diabetes. Many patients with type 2 diabetes are obese and although losing weight is key to preventing complications, weight loss is never easy. With further research, it’s possible that surgery may become more common for obese patients with type 2 diabetes who struggle with weight loss. After all, the more treatment options we have to help patients manage diabetes, the better chances patients have at living a long and healthy life.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How does weight-loss surgery work?

  • There are a few types of weight-loss procedures available to help patients who are very overweight lose weight, including lap banding, gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. These surgeries limit the amount of food that you can ingest, and some also restrict the amount of food that your body can digest.
  • Am I eligible for weight-loss surgery?

  • Weight-loss surgery is often an option for obese individuals who have not seen results with diet and exercise. However, not all patients are eligible for surgery if they have other risk factors that could complicate the procedure. If you are interested in surgery, discuss your concerns and weight-loss options with your healthcare provider.

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