Metformin has similar benefits to having gastric band surgery in slowing the progression of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, research suggests.
The Beta Cell Restoration through Fat Mitigation study, or BetaFat, involved 88 obese people who were either at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a condition known as prediabetes, or had already been diagnosed.
Half of them were given a gastric band – which shrinks the stomach and restricts food intake – and the other half were given metformin. Metformin is usually the first drug prescribed to people with type 2 diabetes, which is recommended alongside diet and exercise to lower blood glucose levels.
The University of Southern California team which carried out the research found that after two years the gastric band group lost more weight when compared to the metformin group. On average the gastric band group lost 23 pounds, while those on metformin lost four pounds.
However, both groups had similarly improved results when it came to insulin sensitivity and blood sugar levels. The researchers also said there were “similar effects” observed in preserving the function of insulin-producing beta cells between the two groups.
This study is part of a larger trial, entitled the Restoring Insulin Secretion (RISE) research, which was developed to further explore the best way to reverse or slow the progression of type 2 diabetes.
The other parts of the research looked at how different medications have affected young people and adults.
The findings of this study have been published in the Diabetes Care journal and were also unveiled at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Annual Meeting in Berlin.
Editor’s note: For more information on preventing type 2 diabetes and eating healthily to control or even put the condition into remissio, visit our award-winning Low Carb Program.

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