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Is Surgery A Better Choice For Treating Obese Diabetics?

Posted Aug 24 2008 9:46pm

Doctors will usually advise their obese patients to watch their diet in order to cut down the unwanted weight. Surgery will only be used as the last resort when everything else fails.



However, a new study has found that abdominal surgery is more effective than dieting in helping obese diabetic patients to cut weight and control blood sugar.



The research, which appeared in the January 23 Issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicated that Type-2 diabetics, overweight patients receiving gastric bypass surgery lost 5 times more weight and were better able to contain the disease compared to patients who tried to lose weight by dieting.



The study was conducted in Australia by researchers from Monash University in Melbourne. They believed it is not the method but the degree of weight loss that appears to be the major driver of glycemic improvement and diabetes remission in obese participants. As such, they recommended using intensive weight-loss therapy as the first step in the management of diabetes rather than simple lifestyle change.



Over the span of 2 years, the study followed 60 obese participants, some of whom practiced conventional dieting and others who received gastric surgery.



The remission rate in the diet group was only 15 percent as compared to 76 percent for the group receiving the abdominal operation. The surgery group also had an average of 20.7 percent body weight loss after 2 years, comparing with only 1.7 percent among the conventional dieting group. In general, a weight loss of about 10 percent is required for the participants to see a remission in their diabetes.



Data showed that some 20 million Americans suffer from Type-2 diabetes, which is often linked to obesity and high blood pressure. Diabetes results when a person’s body cannot regulate blood’s level of insulin, an essential hormone that tells the body to store or burn sugar.



Very often, diabetics will also have other health problems such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol that increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, and circulatory problems, which can damage heart, liver and kidneys. A patient's vision, legs, feet and other extremities can also be adversely affected.



Data from the American Diabetes Association indicates that more than 65 percent of people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
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