A recent study suggests that type 2 diabetes patients may benefit more from weight loss surgery that from dieting, exercising or other lifestyle changes on the long run.
Though past studies had revealed that type 2 diabetes in obese patients may improve over time after a weight loss surgery, the current study brings new evidence that surgery’s benefits are even more effective in treating the disease than lifestyle changes.
Currently, doctors recommend weight loss surgery to “severely obese” diabetes patients. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “severely obese” patients have a body max index higher than 40, while “obese” people have a BMI ranging from 30 to 39.9.
In the U.S., nearly 30 million Americans (about 9 percent of the population) are affected by diabetes, but 30 percent are not yet diagnosed.
Obesity often leads to the most common form of diabetes, type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes patients’ pancreas does not produce enough of a hormone called insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels and how glucose is turned into fat and energy.
The recent study involved 61 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. About half of them were also diagnosed as “obese.” Each of the study participants underwent at least two of three different treatments – one involved behavior changes, dieting and exercising for one year, another one involved behavioral counseling for a couple of years.
Some participants agreed to weight loss surgery and followed the same behavioral counseling treatment as the non-surgery patients for two years.
Following a three-year period, 29 to 40 percent of patients that had weight loss surgery saw at least one remission of their diabetes. Additionally four people who underwent surgery were cured of diabetes, though none of the patients in the lifestyle group saw their disease vanish.
Surgery also helped patients control better their blood sugar levels than their peers in the lifestyle group and take fewer drugs to keep diabetes under control. Although the results are extremely promising, study authors believe that they need to monitor more patients to draw final conclusions.
They also want to learn how remission rates look like after five to seven years in their two study groups.
Other scientists recommend clinicians and their patients to be extremely cautious in interpreting the new results because only few people were cured of diabetes. Additionally, the new study failed to take into account recent day, more effective lifestyle changes.
The new study was published Thursday in the journal JAMA Surgery.
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