Bariatric Surgery May Reduce Diabetes Risk

Bariatric surgery tied to type 2 diabetes risk reduction in UK study of weight loss surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Surgery for weight loss is meant to help patients slim down. But new research suggests that it might also prevent type 2 diabetes in the process.

The study found that obese patients who had weight loss surgery were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who did not have surgery.

The authors of the new study, led by Martin C. Gulliford, MD, of the Department of Primary Care and Public Health at King's College London in the UK, wanted to see whether weight loss surgery also had an effect on diabetes risk.

Obesity can increase a person's risk for a number of health problems, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a chronic disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. Sugar levels are high in these patients because their bodies do not properly process the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar.

In weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, one of several procedures is performed to reduce the amount of food an obese patient's body can take in. These procedures can include gastric bypass, in which a small portion of the stomach is removed, and laparoscopic gastric banding, in which a surgeon places a band around part of the stomach to create a small pouch to hold food. Both surgeries reduce the amount that patients can eat.

Dr. Gulliford and team analyzed data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink — a database that included medical practices across the UK. They identified a large group of obese patients without diabetes.

They found 2,167 patients who underwent some form of bariatric surgery and 2,167 who did not have surgery. The authors examined follow-up data on the patients for an average of 2.8 years.

During this period, 177 patients in the nonsurgery group were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The same was true for only 38 of the bariatric surgery patients.

The study authors estimated that the patients who had weight loss surgery saw an 80 percent reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Further research is needed to understand the relationship between weight loss surgery and type 2 diabetes, the authors noted.

The study was published Nov. 3 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

The UK National Institute for Health Research funded the study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.


Review Date: 
November 1, 2014
Last Updated:
November 4, 2014