Diabetes remission achieved with weight-loss surgery

nurse scale weight loss
Weight-loss surgery is not recommended for all obese diabetic patients under current guidelines.
Credit: ThinkStock

Two small studies provide more evidence that weight-loss surgery may benefit people who are obese and have diabetes.

Both studies found that blood sugar levels were more likely to improve among people who were randomly assigned to have surgery than among those who went through intensive diet and lifestyle programs instead.

The studies included people on the lower end of the obesity spectrum, some of whom wouldn’t be recommended for surgery under current guidelines.

“In appropriate patients, this is something really worth considering,” said Dr. Allison Goldfine. She worked on one of the studies at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Obesity and diabetes are known to be closely linked. But there is a lack of long-term evidence on whether weight-loss surgery helps alleviate diabetes and related complications, researchers say, especially among people who are obese but not morbidly obese.

In one of the new studies, Dr. Anita Courcoulas from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and colleagues tracked 61 obese people with diabetes who were randomly assigned to undergo gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery or to complete a weight control program.

One year later, half of gastric bypass patients and about one-quarter of the gastric banding group had at least partial remission of their diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels were closer to the normal range and they didn’t need diabetes medications.

No patients in the non-surgery group saw their diabetes go into remission.

In Goldfine’s study, researchers randomly allocated 38 patients – all obese, all with diabetes – to gastric bypass surgery or a group weight loss program. One year later, 11 out of 19 gastric bypass patients met the goal for a drop in blood sugar levels. That compared to three out of 19 in the other group.

The studies included people with a body mass index, or BMI, between 30 and 40 or between 30 and 42. The National Institutes of Health and other groups say weight-loss surgery is an option for people with a BMI of 40 or above who have no weight-related complications or a BMI of 35 or higher if they also have diabetes, sleep apnea or other problems.

Weight-loss surgery requires a drastic change in eating habits and can come with complications such as hernias, leakages and gallstones, as well as nutritional deficiencies.

“Right now people with lower BMIs would not typically be covered by insurance, but there is this growing body of data that potentially supports the use of these procedures” among people with diabetes and a BMI of 30 or above, Courcoulas said.

“It’s going to take putting several of these trials together in order to determine whether these recommendations should be moved,” Goldfine added.

She said that it’s important for people to consider surgery not just as a weight management issue, but as a diabetes management issue as well.


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.