Surgical Weight Loss May Stop Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes risk among obese people reduced through bariatric surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) If obesity is one of the main causes of diabetes worldwide, then helping people lose weight may lower rates of diabetes. But it can be hard to shed weight by changing lifestyle habits alone.

Weight loss surgery may lower the long-term risk of type 2 diabetes by more than 80 percent in obese people.

"Lose weight to prevent diabetes."

Study after study has shown that weight loss surgery - or bariatric surgery - can both prevent and treat diabetes in people who are obese.

Results of a recent study by Lars Sjöström, MD, PhD, of Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues have confirmed once again that weight loss surgery is a powerful tool in the fight against diabetes.

The researchers found that weight loss surgery is better than usual care when it comes to preventing type 2 diabetes.

Their study included 1,658 obese patients who went through weight loss surgery and 1,771 obese people who received usual care. Of the surgery patients, 19 percent underwent banding, 69 percent underwent vertical banded gastroplasty and 12 percent underwent gastric bypass.

During the 2-year follow-up period, 110 patients in the surgery group developed type 2 diabetes. In comparison, 392 usual care patients developed type 2 diabetes. Those numbers translate to 6.8 cases of diabetes per 1,000 person-years among surgery patients and 28.4 cases per 1,000 person-years among usual care patients.

According to Dr. Sjöström, both men and women benefited from weight loss surgery. A patient's weight before surgery did not affect the degree to which that patient benefited from surgery, he said.

"Our results show that bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by more than 80 percent," said Dr. Sjöström. "This is an extremely high figure."

The study was funded by the Swedish Research Council and others.

A number of the authors have received consulting fees, own stock or are employed by various pharmaceutical companies and other companies focusing on weight loss.

The research was published August 23 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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Review Date: 
September 17, 2012
Last Updated:
September 20, 2012