Bariatric Surgery May Prevent Diabetes

Published Online: Thursday, September 13, 2012
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Obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery had an 83% lower incidence of type 2 diabetes compared with a control group of obese patients trying to lose weight through nonsurgical means, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Although the new research contributes to a growing body of literature supporting bariatric surgery as a means to fight diabetes, this is the first study to highlight the preventive effect of weight-loss surgery for patients who are prediabetic.

The prospective Swedish Obese Subjects study enrolled 1658 obese individuals who underwent bariatric surgery (vertical banded gastroplasty, banding, or gastric bypass) and 1771 obese controls. These subjects were followed for 15 years and had laboratory assessments and blood glucose tests after 2, 10, and 15 years. None of the participants were diabetic at baseline.

Besides losing an average of nearly 40 lb more per person than the control group, the intervention arm had had a lower incidence of diabetes after the trial period ended. “This risk reduction is at least twice as large as that observed with lifestyle interventions in moderately obese, prediabetic persons,” the researchers wrote.

Among patients with impaired fasting glucose, the benefit of bariatric surgery was associated with a hazard ratio of 0.13, or an 87% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.


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