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Weight Loss and When Your Doctor Tells You That You Have Type 2 Diabetes

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Surgery might be preferable to insulin treatment for diabetes.

Here’s the latest about what you should consider doing when your doctor tells you that you have Type 2 diabetes and losing weight is your best option for surviving it.

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When Your Doctor Says "Diabetes"

Aside from sitting on an examination table or in a doctor’s office and being told that you have cancer, there’s little else more disheartening than hearing the term “Type 2 diabetes” during a candid conversation with your physician. It can sound like a death knell for those of us who have lost loved ones to diabetes and/or seen the effects on the human body when diabetes goes untreated.

Aside from treatment with insulin and other medications while attempting to control blood sugar levels, the one best remedy that remains is through weight loss and the hope that your Type 2 diabetes will go into remission after knocking off those excess pounds. However, losing weight is not an easy remedy for most of us.

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While promoting good eating habits, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle will always be the preferable focus toward losing weight, sometimes a more invasive approach with bariatric surgery is the better choice.

Weight Loss Surgery as a Cure for Diabetes

As it turns out, there is growing evidence that having gastric bypass surgery is the answer for when your doctor tells you that you have type 2 diabetes.

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A recent Endocrine Society news release reports that a new study demonstrates that a significant number of patients with type 2 diabetes are experiencing long-term remission after having bariatric surgery. Moreover, that gastric bypass appears to outperform lap banding when it comes to diabetic remission.

The news release reminds us that lap band surgery is when a band is placed around the top of the stomach to create a very small pouch that can hold only a small amount of food. Gastric bypass in comparison, however, is when the size of the stomach is surgically reduced, resulting in hormonal changes, and lowering the amount of nutrients that are absorbed from food.

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In the published study, 2,256 adults with severe obesity (35 percent of whom had type 2 diabetes) were followed for 7 years after having had bariatric surgery. What the researchers found was that of that 35 percent, 57 percent of the participants previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes achieved remission after gastric bypass surgery. For those who had lap band surgery, 22 percent achieved remission.

In addition, remission success was more common in younger patients and those who had diabetes for shorter periods. And, that the remission seen with gastric bypass surgery appears to support earlier studies that reasons—such as currently undefined hormonal mechanisms—other than weight loss are responsible for remission.

“If a patient with type 2 diabetes is considering weight loss surgery, choosing gastric bypass soon after diagnosis can increase their chance of remission or achieving a blood sugar level that does not need treatment,” said study author Jonathan Q. Purnell, M.D., of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Ore. “Our large study confirms the importance of weight loss on inducing diabetes remission, but also finds gastric bypass has benefits independent of weight. If we can understand what these benefits are, it could lead to new diabetes treatments.”

A Diagnosis of Diabetes May Require Urgent Action

The take home message of this study is that when your doctor tells you that you have type 2 diabetes, acting sooner—rather than later—with bariatric surgery, might be the best decision you can make for your health instead of attempting to lose weight with dieting and exercise that can take much longer to achieve.

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The conclusion of the paper states that “Durable, long-term diabetes remission following bariatric surgery is more likely when performed soon after diagnosis when diabetes medication burden is low and beta-cell function is preserved. A greater weight-independent likelihood of diabetes remission after RYGB than LAGB suggests mechanisms beyond weight loss are contributing to improved beta cell function after RYGB.”

For more about a similar study, here is an informative article titled “Study Shows Two Weight Loss Methods Diabetics Are Cured With Work Equally.”

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 Peter Stanic from Pixabay

References:

Gastric bypass surgery leads to long-term diabetes remission” Endocrine Society news release 3 Dec. 2020.

Diabetes Remission Status During Seven-year Follow-up of the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery Study” Jonathan Q Purnell, MD, et al, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 3 Dec. 2020.

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