New study finds bariatric surgery helps obese diabetics

Tue, 17 Aug 2010
Research into weight-loss surgery, known as bariatric surgery, has revealed that three quarters of obese diabetics who had the surgery were able to stop taking their diabetes drugs within six months of the operation. Published in the medical journal Archives of Surgery, the study investigated whether the surgery may remove the need for chronic medications to treat diabetes and reduce overall healthcare costs, and could also provide evidence for insurance companies to pay for the procedures.

Martin Makary, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and co-researchers said "Until a successful non-surgical means for preventing and reversing obesity is developed, bariatric surgery appears to be the only intervention that can result in a sustained reversal of both obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus in most patients receiving it."

There has been a surge in use of bariatric surgery over the past five years, as those with obesity problems try to lose weight and avoid associated health complications such as diabetes, heart disease, joint pain and some cancers .

This is one of the first studies into the impact the surgery has on health costs for those with type 2 diabetes, with the team examining insurance claims data from 2,235 patients who had bariatric surgery during a four-year period. They showed that for those diabetic patients who had bariatric surgery, only 25 per cent were taking diabetes medication six months later, and that number kept falling. A year later, fewer than 20 per cent of patients were taking diabetes drugs and two years after surgery, only 15 per cent were still doing so.

It was also revealed that health costs increased in the year after the study by almost 10 per cent, but then fell by 34 per cent in the second year and by over 70 per cent in the third year.
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