Obesity surgery helps fight against diabetes

Fri, 09 Jul 2010
Obesity surgery, such as stomach stapling, is being recommended as a possible way for overweight people to bring down their blood sugar levels and sometimes experience a reversal of their diabetes . Bariatric surgery, as it is known, can have benefits for diabetics, even those who are merely overweight and not ranked as obese.

However, extending such surgery has its difficulties, primarily due to the strict criteria involved. Federal guidelines in the US state that surgery candidates must be morbidly obese with a body mass index over 40, or a BMI over 35 plus a weight-related medical problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure . These criteria are also used by insurers to decide whether they will pay for the procedure.

However, some experts want to push the boundaries to see if bariatric surgery can help control diabetes in people who are overweight, but not fat enough for surgery, according to the guidelines. Other studies have suggested that procedures such as stomach stapling and gastric banding may work in diabetics who aren't obese, although they are not sure if this is down to weight loss or even the gut hormones involved in blood sugar control being affected by the operation.

However, operations such as gastric bypasses are major surgery and very expensive, and the American Diabetes Association has stated that there is not enough evidence to generally recommend surgery for diabetics with a BMI lower than 35 outside of an experiment.
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