Apr 23, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Weight-loss surgery is better than changing lifestyle in treating type 2 diabetes, research suggests

Jul 06, 2015 06:40 PM EDT

Individuals with type 2 diabetes have better chances of improving from their condition if they undergo weight-loss surgery instead of changing thier lifestyle, a research conducted by a team of experts  at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center reveals.

"One of the most important things to take away is that there is durability of remission over time," Dr. Anita Courcoulas, the team's lead researcher, said.

Individuals with Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 and above can undergo weight loss surgeries. Those with lower BMI but opt for a procedure, given they have certain health conditions that is necessary for surgery.

Type 2 diabetes, also called insulin resistant, is the most common culprit of obesity. In type 2 diabetes, the body is unable to produce sufficient amounts of insulin, which fuels the cells to use glucose. Even if enough insulin is produced, the cells, however, does not consume it.

Sixty one people aging 25 to 55 and positive with type 2 diabetes joined in the study. More than half of the participants have class 1 obesity, while the rest were heavier.

The participants were randomly picked for one of the three treatments available. The first treatment was intensive lifestyle intervention for one year. The participants underwent diet, exercise, behavior changes, and later, lower-intensity lifestyle intervention, like behavioral counseling.

Then, there were also participants who were assigned to undergo one of the two weight loss surgeries: Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) or laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB). A low-intensity lifestyle intervention for two years followed.

After three years, 40 percent of those who underwent RYGB and 29 percent in those who opted for LAGB  saw at least partial remission of diabetes. None of those who chose only lifestyle intervention saw an improvement in their condition.

Likewise, three participants who took the RYGB and one person from the LAGB group became 100 percent diabetes free.

The research also revealed that blood sugar control of those who have gone through weight loss surgery improved more in the surgery groups, compared to the lifestyle intervention group. The surgery groups were also more likely to no longer need medication for their diabetes.

Courcoulas, however, noted that there is a need for a follow-up study to provide a strong support on their initial findings.

Dr Osama Hamdy, medical director of the Joslin Diabetes Center for Obesity, who was not a part of the research team, also warned diabetes patients not get too optimistic of the results of this study.

"Any study like this we need to be very cautious when reading them and read between the lines," he said.

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