For those who are obese, type 2 diabetes is a serious complication. Obesity negatively impacts quality of life as well as aging. In Denmark alone there are nearly 250,000 individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Weight-loss surgery has been found to be an effective way to treat type 2 diabetes in obese individuals and it eliminates diabetes in nearly two-third of patients.
Professor Flemming Dela from the University of Copenhagen said, “Our study shows that the patients’ ability to produce insulin is decisive for whether or not the procedure eliminates diabetes. Measuring the insulin cells’ performance before surgery can thus provide us with a much better basis from which to predict who will actually benefit from the surgery. This type of measurement is not currently included in doctors’ assessments.”
For the study, researchers measured the insulin-producing cells’ ability to produce insulin twice prior to the weight-loss surgery and then twice again following it. Four months after the surgery 57 percent of patients with the best insulin-producing cells prior to surgery no longer had diabetes post-surgery. In the group with poor insulin-producing cells no change was seen. After 18 months of surgery 71 percent of those with high insulin-producing cells no longer had diabetes compared to 38 percent in the low producing group.
Being able to predict the success of weight-loss surgery is important for doctors, the patient and for the economy as well. In the past, weight-loss surgery was found to improve insulin, but the new findings suggest the ability to produce insulin is more important to determine effectiveness of weight-loss surgery and eliminating diabetes.
Dela explained, “The ability to produce sufficient amounts of insulin is inversely related to duration of the disease. The longer the patient has had diabetes, the poorer the ability to produce insulin. Thus, these new results also point to the importance of undergoing an operating at an early stage, before the patients lose their ability to produce insulin.”
More research is required to determine the amount of insulin required for weight-loss surgery to be successful. Insulin measuring is not standardized in labs, but it should eventually be included as a prerequisite in preliminary examinations.