Bariatric Surgery Often Pushes Diabetes into Remission

Bariatric surgery had a higher success rate for diabetes remission than dieting alone

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Losing weight is often the first step to controlling type 2 diabetes. Some weight loss methods may work better against diabetes than others.

A recent study found that remission rates for diabetes were significantly higher among patients who underwent weight loss surgeries as part of their treatment.

Though surgical intervention led to a greater chance of remission, the study's authors noted that overall diabetes rates could be greatly reduced with lifestyle changes and medication.

"Ask your doctor for guidance on losing weight in a healthy way."

This study was led by Lars Sjostrom, MD, of the Institute of Medicine at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Dr. Sjostrom and colleagues followed up with participants from the 1987 through 2001 Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study, which gathered data from 25 surgical departments and 480 primary healthcare centers in Sweden.

The original SOS study included data from 4,047 obese people. Of these, 2,010 underwent bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery), while the remaining patients received standard educational information and diet medication.

According to the Mayo Clinic, bariatric surgeries are used when dieting and exercise have failed to lower a dangerously obese patient’s weight. Bariatric surgeries include gastric bypass and other weight loss surgeries that make changes to the patient’s digestive system to limit the amount of food the patient can eat or by reducing the amount of nutrients the body can absorb.

The research team followed up with the patients from the SOS study who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when the original study began. Type 2 diabetes is a condition in which blood sugar levels are too high because the body is either unable to create or properly use insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar levels.

The research team found that 72.3 percent of the participants who had bariatric surgery were in remission after two years, compared with only 16.4 percent of the non-surgically treated participants. Remission from diabetes was defined for this study as having a blood sugar level below 110 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and not taking medication for diabetes.

The data showed that after 15 years, diabetes remission rates fell to 30.4 percent for the patients who received surgery, compared with 6.5 percent of the non-surgery patients.

The authors said that patients who underwent bariatric surgeries of all types saw a better remission rate. These bariatric surgeries included gastric bypass and multiple gastric banding methods, which involve placing a belt around the stomach to restrict its size.

These authors concluded that bariatric surgery was associated with better diabetes remission rates than education and diet alone. However, these findings need to be confirmed through additional randomized trials.

According to American Diabetes Association, type 2 diabetes is often preventable with a healthy diet and weight maintenance.

The authors of this study acknowledged that their research was limited by age and other differences between the study groups.

This study was published June 10 in JAMA.

The study was funded in part by grants from the Swedish Research Council and the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research.

The authors disclosed that team members have received fees or funding from AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and other sources.

Review Date: 
June 9, 2014
Last Updated:
June 11, 2014