Weight Loss Surgery Not Just for Obese

Diabetes patients who are overweight but not obese may benefit from gastric banding

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

(RxWiki News) Gastric banding is a weight loss procedure that has been used successfully to control diabetes in severely obese people. The operation may now provide similar benefits to those who are overweight.

Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB) is a minimally invasive procedure that limits the amount of food entering the stomach. Studies have shown this procedure to improve blood sugar control and even reverse diabetes in some patients. Currently, this type of bariatric (weight) surgery is an option for those who are obese.

Recent research from Australia, however, has discovered that banding may also help those who are overweight (but not obese) to reduce or in some cases eliminate the symptoms of diabetes.

"Consider gastric banding as an option to fight diabetes if overweight."

Paul O’Brien, MD, founder and emeritus director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE) at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia and National Medical Director of the American Institute of Gastric Banding, a multicenter clinical facility based in Richardson, Texas, collaborated on this study involving 51 people who were overweight but not obese.

All participants had a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 30. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. Normal weight BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. A BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese.

Compared to those with normal weight, people who carry excess body weight and body fat are at a much greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The extra pounds can make it harder for the body to control blood sugar using insulin.

While diet and exercise can lead to weight loss, some patients may need additional methods to shed pounds.

Dr. O’Brien and his colleagues randomly assigned 25 patients to receive gastric banding and multidisciplinary care, which included regular visits with a physician and consultations with a dietitian. The remaining patients received only multidisciplinary care.

Gastric banding is considered a relatively non-invasive procedure. With few tiny abdominal cuts, a surgeon inserts a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch to hold food.

After two years, more than half the patients in the gastric band group (52 percent) lowered blood sugar concentration to a level considered to be "diabetes remission." Two participants in the non-gastric band group achieved the same results.

Dr. O’Brien told dailyRx News, “Gastric banding is generally thought of in the context of obesity. If a simple, safe, day surgery procedure can lead to remission in more than half a group with type 2 diabetes, it deserves careful consideration. No non-surgical options can do that.”

This research was published in April in the The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.

Funding for the study was received from Monash University Centre for Obesity Research and Education and Allergan, a pharmaceutical company.

Review Date: 
April 11, 2014
Last Updated:
May 1, 2014