Monday, February 24, 2014

Would Weight-Loss Surgery Benefit Diabetics?

When a person becomes obese, the only option he or she can opt for is to lose weight. This is because obesity could lead to many serious medical conditions including Type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

Of course, there are several avenues that can help achieve the weight loss.  First of all, he or she should start off with combining a reduction of processed foods high in saturated fats, sugar, salt and caloric content of the diet with an increase in physical activity.

If this fails, which always does, he or she might have to approach the doctors for other means that include use of drugs to decrease appetite, block fat absorption or reduce stomach volume.

Bariatric surgery might be recommended in cases of severe obesity. 2 effective types of bariatric surgical procedures are gastric bypass and gastric banding that can limit intake of food energy by reducing stomach size. 

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved gastric banding for people with a BMI (Body Mass Index) between 30 and 35 who have an illness linked to obesity. Each year, more than 113,000 bariatric surgeries are performed in the United States. They have saved countless lives but these procedures do carry risks as with any other surgery. As they are complex surgeries, they sometimes result in serious complications. The complication rate for all types of bariatric surgery is about 7.5 percent, according to the National Institutes of Health.

However, a gastric bypass or other type of weight-loss surgery could actually help diabetics who are moderately obese. This was what researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, Rand Health, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Olive View-University of California, and the Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine wrote in their paper that was published on June 5, 2013 in ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’ (JAMA).

Their analysis was based on a review of evidence supporting the use of bariatric surgery to treat people who are diabetic and who have a BMI of between 30 and 35, considered to be on the low end of the obesity spectrum.

Diabetics with moderate obesity were found to lose more weight and had better glucose control over 2 years if they got such surgery rather than opting for non-surgical treatment like dieting and drugs. The researchers also noted that patients who had a gastric bypass achieved better results (more short term weight loss and better control of blood sugar levels) than those who underwent gastric banding.

But since the findings were arrived from a relatively small number of trials, it is necessary to carry out more studies to include on how patients do after 2 or more years, complication rates and side effects. Until then, it is inappropriate to recommend bariatric surgery over nonsurgical weight-loss treatment to people who are obese.


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