A study led by Professor Paul O’Brien and Dr John Wentworth from Monash University’s Centre for Obesity Research found that people who were overweight and had the surgery achieved much better outcomes for diabetes than standard weight-loss therapy.
Dr Wentworth said bariatric surgery achieves better diabetes outcomes than medical therapy in obese people, but until now, it was not known if similar benefits occur in people who were overweight but not obese.
“Offering bariatric surgery to people who are overweight has helped them lose more weight and delivered much better diabetes outcomes than non-surgical intervention,” Dr Wentworth said.
“We found that, at two years following the surgery, around half of the patients sustained weight-loss that effectively put their diabetes into remission.”
People who were overweight and had the surgery lost an average 11kg. The average starting weight of the 51 patients who took part in the study was 81kg.
The study concluded that overweight patients who had gastric band surgery required less medication to control their diabetes, with more than half entering diabetes remission. The surgery also improved blood pressure, insulin resistance and HDL cholesterol.
Those who didn’t have the surgery but were put on a diet and exercise plan achieved 1kg weight loss and required more medication to manage their diabetes.
The study findings challenge current guidelines that recommend lap band surgery in people with diabetes only if their body mass index is greater than 35kg/m2, which equates to a weight of more than 100kgs.
Dr Wentworth presented the findings at a conference of diabetes specialists in Sydney this week.