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Study Shows Two Weight Loss Methods Diabetics Are Cured With Work Equally

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Study suggests end result, not method achieves same weight loss benefits.

Studies show that diabetics who are obese are more likely not to survive COVID-19, than diabetes who are of normal weight. Here’s what you need to know about the latest finding comparing two weight loss methods for curing diabetes and protecting you from COVID-19.


Recently it was reported that having the three conditions of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity together resulted in a higher likelihood of dying from COVID-19 than when having any one or two of the aforementioned metabolic syndrome-related conditions. In addition, the study also determined that having diabetes or just being obese alone, increased the odds that a patient diagnosed with COVID-19 would be admitted into the ICU and placed on a ventilator.

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In fact, recent studies also warn that even if a vaccine is successfully developed sometime in the near future, that there are concerns it will not protect people who are obese.

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However, according to a Washington University School of Medicine new release, researchers who have recently published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine report that they have determined that patients dealing with diabetes and obesity who lose weight either through dieting or through gastric bypass surgery, actually achieve the same benefits equally. In other words, that their cure from metabolic syndrome and diabetes is directly related to weight loss itself independent of other factors.

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Gastric Bypass Surgery

In practice, gastric bypass surgery has proved to be among the most effective surgical therapies to treat or reverse type 2 diabetes in severely obese patients—often resulting in remission and patients no longer requiring insulin injections or other medications.

Gastric Bypass is a surgical procedure that works towards weight loss by basically changing how your stomach and small intestine processes the food you eat. This is accomplished by basically making your stomach smaller and rerouting your food further down the digestive tract to prevent most of it from being absorbed during digestion.

During gastric bypass surgery you will be asleep while under general anesthesia during which the surgeon will:

1. Make your stomach smaller by dividing your stomach into a small upper section and larger lower section with staples. Food will stay in the upper pouch section, which will be only the size of a walnut.

2. Reroute food from the small pouch directly to a region of the small intestine by creating a path that will bypass the lower stomach section and a good portion of the digestive tract. Doing this will result in your body absorbing fewer calories.

The procedure itself takes 2-3 hours and most patients are ready to go home in about 3-5 days.

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The Study

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According to the Washington University news release, in the study, 11 gastric bypass surgery patients who had diabetes and lost weight following the surgery were compared against 11 patients who had diabetes and achieved equivalent weight loss through dieting. The surgical patients lost an average of 51 pounds, while those in the diet group lost an average of 48 pounds.

Following their shared weight loss, both groups underwent extensive metabolic testing that analyzed their insulin sensitivity and other factors associated with type 2 diabetes.

What the researchers found was that the metabolic improvements both groups achieved were due to weight loss alone, rather than to any other changes or influences that resulted from the surgery itself. In other words, that surgery does not appear to impart metabolic benefits through ways not shared by weight loss through less invasive methods like dieting.

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“It has been suggested that weight loss induced by gastric bypass surgery is different from weight loss induced by a low-calorie diet,” said principal investigator Samuel Klein, MD, director of Washington University’s Center for Human Nutrition.

“It has been presumed that gastric bypass surgery has therapeutic, metabolic effects that result in better glucose control and even remission of diabetes beyond the effects expected from weight loss alone…based on the fact that certain factors—such as increased bile acid concentrations, decreased branched-chain amino acid concentrations and alterations in the gut microbiome are different in surgery patients and may be responsible for the unique therapeutic effects of gastric bypass surgery,” Klein stated in the news release.

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“But we found gastric bypass surgery improves metabolic function by causing weight loss. There were no differences in the reduction of diabetes medications or in the rate of diabetes remission between surgery patients and those who lost equivalent amounts of weight through diet alone.”

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An accompanying editorial about the published article states that the study “…delivers a straightforward and important message for both clinicians and patients—reducing adipose tissue volume, by whatever means, will improve blood glucose control in persons with type 2 diabetes.”

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with an eye on the latest news, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on what you need to know for healthier living. For continual updates about health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image Source: courtesy of Pixabay


Major weight loss—whether from surgery or diet—has same metabolic benefits” Washington University School of Medicine news release by Jim Dreyden, Aug. 2020

Effects of Diet versus Gastric Bypass on Metabolic Function in DiabetesNew England Journal of Medicine 2020; 383:721-732, Mihoko Yoshino, M.D., Ph.D. et al. 20 Aug. 2020.

Bariatric Surgery and Restoration of Insulin Sensitivity — It’s Weight LossNew England Journal of Medicine editorial by Clifford J. Rosen, M.D., and Julie R. Ingelfinger, M.D. Aug. 2020.