Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Two years later, surgery more effective than lifestyle change for obesity and diabetes

Bariatric surgery – like gastric bypass and gastric banding – appears to be more effective than lifestyle change at reducing weight and treating type two diabetes, a recent review of past studies has shown.

The review, conducted by the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, examined existing literature that compared the two forms of weight loss.

So far, only studies that assess patients up to two years after surgery, or two years of diet and exercise, have been done. The authors stressed that further research needs to be undertaken over a longer time period in order to come to more conclusive results.

However, at the two year mark, the review found that patients who underwent surgery weighed an average of 57 pounds (25 kilograms) less than those who attempted to lose weight by other methods. Furthermore, more people who had type 2 diabetes saw their blood sugar levels fall into the normal range after surgery than after a different intervention.

"Although they try to look at a range of medical conditions, in reality the real importance is the effect of weight loss on diabetes and the relative effectiveness of non-surgical versus surgical approaches," Professor Paul O'Brien, Emeritus Director of the Centre for Obesity Research and Education, told Reuters Health.

"The clear and consistent message is the bariatric surgical procedures achieve a much better outcome," he said.


"Given that there are probably in excess of 300 million people across the world with type 2 diabetes and maybe half of these are obese, this opens up huge possibilities for better health.”

Gastric bypass surgery carries risks of allergic reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, breathing problems, heart attack, stroke or infection.

In the review, 15 percent of people in the surgery groups had anemia from low iron levels post-surgery and 8 percent needed a second operation.


Post-surgery, patients must also stick to a special diet for life and often have to avoid some common medications like aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

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