People who suffer from type 2 diabetes often put a lot of efforts to change their lifestyles.
A healthy diet combined with regular exercise are usually necessary to control the disease. Interestingly, overweight and obese people usually use the same strategies to improve their health.
And because obesity is a big risk factor for type 2 diabetes, it is possible that treatment for obesity can benefit people with diabetes.
This is confirmed in recent research. One study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital shows that weight loss surgery can give better control for diabetes than intensive lifestyle change.
The study focused on one type of bariatric surgery – Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. This procedure is considered the “gold standard” weight control operation. It often results in strong weight loss that lasts a long time.
Many doctors prefer this surgery because it has fewer complications than other weight-loss surgeries.
In the study, 38 obese patients with type 2 diabetes got treatment either by surgery or via an intensive lifestyle management program. All participants had an average weight of 230 pounds and BMI of 36.3.
Three years after the treatment, these people took a survey and the scientists found that people who used the surgery lost 55 pounds on average, while people in the lifestyle management group lost only 11 pounds.
Moreover, the A1c level in the surgery group reduce 1.79%, while the A1c level in the lifestyle management group reduced only 0.39%.
The results also showed that people who took the weight loss surgery had less risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
One reason why the two groups have so much differences is that the lifestyle management is hard in the long run.
People given the lifestyle intervention made good progress in weight loss and diabetes control, but these progresses dropped a lot over time.
On the contrary, people given the surgery had better ability to keep the changes in body weight and blood sugar, and they took less drugs to control their diabetes and blood pressure.
Another important thing is that although both groups reported that they felt positive after their diabetes were controlled – either by surgery or lifestyle management, the surgery group enjoyed better weight loss and better quality of life.
In fact, the surgery group found their body confidence, self-esteem, physical activity and work performance were all improved.
“Our study demonstrates that in patients with mild-moderate obesity and type 2 diabetes, gastric bypass surgery leads to a sustained reduction in weight, improvement in glycemic control, and decrease in cardiovascular risk compared to a medical diabetes and weight management program,” said lead author Donald C. Simonson from the BWH.
“this kind of information is very important to clinicians and patients to help inform decision making,” says another senior author.
The researchers hope their findings can provide useful information to doctors and patients. At least gastric bypass surgery should be taken as a viable option for people with type 2 diabetes and mild to moderate obesity.
They also suggest that all surgeries have risks and side effects, and gastric bypass surgery is no exception.
Therefore, the surgery treatment should be personalized for each individual patient, and doctors need to know that it is not always the best option.
Even though a patient takes the surgery, s/he still needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
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