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Search Health Information    Against Diabetes, Weight-Loss Surgery Seems A-OK
 Diabetes Center Feature Story

Against Diabetes, Weight-Loss Surgery Seems A-OK
The earlier the treatment, the better the odds of long-term remission

Against Diabetes, Weight-Loss Surgery Seems A-OK(HealthDay News) -- With two-thirds of American adults overweight or obese and millions suffering from the chronic diseases that come with excess pounds, weight-loss surgery has been growing in popularity. But questions have remained.

Now, researchers are reporting that weight-loss surgery is as safe as other routine procedures and confirming that it fights diabetes.

Being a healthy weight is considered critical to overall health. Obesity puts people at increased risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke and some forms of cancer.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, morbid obesity -- having a body mass index (ratio of weight to height) of more than 40, or a BMI of 35 to 40 plus an obesity-related disease such as type 2 diabetes -- is a chronic condition that is difficult to treat through diet and exercise alone.

Weight-loss surgery, known as bariatric surgery, works by restricting food intake or interfering with nutrition through malabsorption.

In one study, researchers from Duke University Medical Center and elsewhere analyzed data from nearly 58,000 people included in the Bariatric Outcomes Longitudinal Database, the largest repository of medical information on people who've had weight-loss surgery. Only about 10 percent had complications, according to the study.

"This is further evidence, using the world's largest collection of information about bariatric surgery, to support that it is a safe and valuable treatment option for patients who suffer from morbid obesity," the study's lead author, Dr. Eric J. DeMaria, vice chairman of surgery at Duke, told HealthDay. He conducted the study along with researchers from the Surgical Review Corporation in Raleigh, N.C. Two other studies have found that weight-loss surgery can lead to the long-term remission of diabetes.

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University examined 177 morbidly obese people with type 2 diabetes who underwent gastric bypass surgery, the most common weight-loss procedure, between 1993 and 2003.

In the first year, nearly 90 percent of them returned to normal blood sugar levels, the study found. About 60 percent were still diabetes-free five to 16 years later.

"The earlier you got these patients for gastric bypass and the earlier they were referred during the course of their diabetes, the better their chance for diabetes control," said Dr. James W. Maher, a VCU professor of surgery and the study's lead author.

But to decide if weight-loss surgery is the best option, anyone considering such an operation should ask themselves, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, if they are:

  • Unlikely to lose weight or keep it off over the long term with nonsurgical measures?
  • Well-informed about the surgical procedure?
  • Determined to lose weight and improve their health?
  • Aware of the potential risk for serious complications, dietary restrictions and occasional failures?
  • Committed to lifelong healthy eating and physical activity habits, medical follow-up and supplementation with vitamins and minerals?

On the Web

To learn more about bariatric surgery, visit the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

SOURCES: Eric J. DeMaria, M.D., vice chairman, Department of Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; James W. Maher, M.D., professor, surgery, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; June 24, 2009, presentations, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery annual meeting, Grapevine, Texas; Weight-control Information Network, U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (www.win.niddk.nih.gov)

Author: Dennis Thompson

Publication Date: July 31, 2010


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