Weight-loss surgery beats medications for controlling type-2 diabetes in obesity

Weight-loss surgery beats medications for controlling type-2 diabetes in obesityA new study has found that controlling type-2 diabetes in those with obesity is more successful with weight-loss surgery when compared to the use of medications. The findings reveal that five years after weight-loss surgery, obese participants were diabetes-free.

Researchers back in 2009 randomly assigned 20 obese patients with type-2 diabetes to receive medical treatment, another 20 patients received gastric bypass surgery, and an additional 20 received weight-loss surgery called biliopancreatic diversion.


Among those who had surgery, nearly 80 percent saw their glucose levels controlled over the long-term versus only 25 percent who received medication. All participants saw a reduction in heart disease risk, but surgery participants had a greater reduction in heart and blood vessel disease and also required fewer medications to treat high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Weight-loss surgery can be risky. In an alternative international study, although the participants’ diabetes was better controlled for those who received weight-loss surgery, they increased their risk of infection and bone fractures.

Researchers are hesitant to call weight-loss surgery a cure for type-2 diabetes, so they are confident of the results and deem it an effective means for better controlling type-2 diabetes. Researchers are hopeful that their findings may prompt medical insurers to begin covering more weight-loss surgeries as a means to better control type-2 diabetes; many of these companies do not currently cover these types of surgeries, which researchers feel are denying individuals a viable treatment.

Type-2 diabetes and the obesity link

Type-2 diabetes and the obesity linkIt is well known that there is a strong link between obesity and type-2 diabetes. Even though an exact cause of type-2 diabetes is still unknown among those who are obese, their risk of developing type-2 diabetes greatly increases.

A strong relationship can be seen between type-2 diabetes and obesity: 90 percent of individuals with type-2 diabetes are also obese.

Obesity, specifically higher abdominal fat, has been shown as an increased risk to develop type-2 diabetes; abdominal fat leads to inflammation which in turn makes the body more resistant to insulin. Because insulin resistance can go symptomless, individuals may not even know they are pre-diabetic or have diabetes until they go see a doctor for a check-up.

Obesity is commonly measured by a person’s body mass index (BMI) which examines a person’s height and weight. Normal weight has a BMI score of 18.5 to 24.9, overweight has a score of 25 to 29.9, and obesity has a score of 30 or greater. Although BMI is not 100 percent accurate – it does not account for muscle mass – it is a very close indicator of a person’s health and what they may be at risk for in regards to their weight. The risk of type-2 diabetes goes up with a BMI score of 25, so even just being overweight is enough to increase a person’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes.

How to manage weight and prevent type-2 diabetes

How to manage weight and prevent type-2 diabetesType-2 diabetes can easily be prevented with healthy lifestyle habits and is not an illness a person has to develop in their lifetime. Simple ways to lower your risk of diabetes and combat obesity are:

  • Control your weight – especially reducing fat around your abdomen.
  • Exercise more.
  • Improve your diet – choose whole grains, avoid sugary and processed foods, consume more fruits and vegetables, drink more water and avoid soda, consume good fats (monosaturated) as opposed to bad fats (trans fats), and limit intake of red or processed meat.
  • Don’t smoke, or quit smoking.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
  • Manage any underlying health issues – such as hypertension and high cholesterol.
  • Know your family risk – does diabetes run in your family?

Type-2 diabetes, as well as obesity, are avoidable and not inevitable parts of getting older. Healthy lifestyle habits can better help you prevent type-2 diabetes.

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Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.