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New Bariatric Surgery Study Spells Good News for Diabetics

Written by Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery   Last modified on November 9, 2018

Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery has previously covered the benefits of weight loss surgery for men and women with type 2 diabetes. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests even more good news, beyond the life-altering weight loss, for diabetic patients who opt for the surgery.

Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), the study involved some 5,000+ patients with diabetes and a body mass index (BMI) of 35+ who underwent weight loss surgery. Compared with a control group of 15,000+ diabetic patients classified as obese, who were treated with traditional methods to manage weight and blood glucose levels, the study found that the severely obese diabetic patients who had weight loss surgery were 40 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke within five years of treatment, and had a 67 percent less risk of death over that same period.

In an interview with Healthline, Lillian Craggs-Dino, DHA — a leading expert in bariatric nutrition at Cleveland Clinic — noted that “bariatric surgery is also called metabolic surgery because of the positive effects it has on putting into remission metabolic diseases and conditions such as type 2 diabetes.” Ms. Craggs-Dino highlighted this metabolic connection by referencing an analysis of some 135 studies related to bariatric surgery in which a staggering 86 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes experienced either a dramatic improvement in their condition, or complete remission.

The benefits of bariatric surgery in terms of dropping significant weight and improving health generally are well known. However, the expanded understanding of specific benefits — such as helping to prevent macrovascular disease for diabetics, and potential remission — continue to demonstrate the truly life-altering impact the treatment can have. Access to care and getting insurance to cover bariatric surgery continue to be stumbling blocks for some people (as we’ve previously written about), but hopefully more studies like the NIDDK study will help to illustrate the health benefits of surgery and improve coverage and accessibility.

Diabetes and Weight Loss Surgery

Diabetes and obesity share an unfortunate connection, with almost 90 percent of patients newly diagnosed with diabetes being overweight or obese according to the American Diabetes Association. Traditional treatments for diabetes include lifestyle and dietary changes to help the patient lose excess weight, but weight loss surgery has proven to be far more effective in helping patients achieve remission. That’s not to say weight loss surgery should be viewed as an alternative to lifestyle and dietary changes, as those are essential components in maintaining the effects of surgery.

If you’re interested in learning more about some of the more popular types of bariatric surgery, we urge you to check out our articles on gastric bypass, gastric banding, gastric sleeve and incision-free options. You can also schedule a consultation with a bariatric surgeon to learn more about what specific treatments may be best for you.

How Bariatric Surgery Can Help People with Diabetes – Oct 23, 2018
American Diabetes Association
Association Between Bariatric Surgery and Macrovascular Disease Outcomes in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Severe Obesity – JAMA Oct 16, 2018