Obese people who undergo weight loss surgery are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, with an 80% decrease in risk reported in a recent study. During up to seven years of follow-up, 38 cases of diabetes were diagnosed in the weight loss surgery group and 177 among controls, which represented about 4% of the surgery group and 16% of the controls. The study authors concluded that their findings suggest that “weight loss surgery could be a highly effective method for prevention of diabetes in patients with severe obesity.”
Research has proven that weight loss surgery significantly improves or even resolves diabetes in obese individuals with the condition, but it hasn’t been established whether surgery can actually prevent diabetes from developing in the first place. The findings are particularly interesting because of the prevalence of diabetes in severely obese people, with 3 % of this population developing the condition each year. Without effective treatment, complications of diabetes can include heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, eye damage, kidney damage and can eventually become life-threatening.
An earlier study had similar results. Published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2012, researchers reported that obese people who undergo weight loss surgery are four times less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. They found that 10 years after surgery, 28 percent of the patients in the control group had developed diabetes. In the surgery group, just 7 percent of the patients had developed diabetes. This translates to almost an 80 percent reduction in risk of developing diabetes after bariatric surgery.
While more evidence is needed, the studies bring us a step closer to confirming the effectiveness of bariatric surgery in preventing type 2 diabetes.