Weight loss surgery may cure obese diabetics: study

Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:51am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Most obese people with diabetes will be cured of it by weight loss surgery, with gastric bypass surgery allowing more than 80 percent of patients to come off their diabetes medication, according to a study.

The report in Archives of Surgery concerned a review of earlier studies led by Rick Meijer, at the Institute for Cardiovascular Research at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, who said the findings exceeded what was possible with more conventional diabetes treatments.

"In standard practice, only a very minor group of individuals with an iron will can lose enough weight to be cured from type 2 diabetes mellitus," Meijer said in an email to Reuters Health, referring to the most common type of diabetes.

Meijer and his colleagues pooled data from nine studies of diabetics who underwent either a gastric bypass -- which makes the stomach smaller and allows food to bypass part of the small intestine -- or gastric band surgery, in which the capacity of the stomach is reduced by using an adjustable band.

Eight of the studies included between 23 and 177 patients, while the last one traced 82,000 people. Each followed patients for at least a year.

After gastric bypass, 83 percent of patients could stop taking their diabetes medications, some within days of the surgery. After gastric banding, 62 percent could stop.

"Surgery ought to be considered front line therapy for diabetes among obese people," said Jon Gould, who heads the weight loss surgery program at the University of Wisconsin and was not involved in the study.

Meijer said about 90 percent of cases of diabetes are due to excessive weight, though not all diabetics would be eligible for the weight loss surgery.

It's also unclear how long surgery's impact on diabetes can last. One study included in the review found that 10 years after surgery, just one third of people whose diabetes had abated still had good control of their blood sugar.   Continued...