Groups Recommend Weight-Loss Surgery as Diabetes Cure

The American Diabetes Association and dozens of other groups say that the risk of diabetes is such that weight-loss surgery, which is effective in fighting type 2 diabetes, should be on the table as a treatment. It's the first time the surgical option has been recommended.

Weight-loss surgery isn’t cheap and is invasive, but compared with the health risks that come with type 2 diabetes, it might be the best option for some.

That’s according to a coalition of industry groups, including the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the International Diabetes Federation, which argues that procedures that shrink stomach sizes, such as bariatric surgery, show effective results for promoting remission of the disease. The recommendation by 45 health groups represents the first time that weight-loss surgery has specifically been recommended as a solution for diabetes, especially for those who struggle with lifestyle changes.

The guidelines, published in ADA’s Diabetes Care last month, suggest that those with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 40 should consider such surgery whether or not they’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. The guidelines also recommend it as an option for those with a BMI as low as 30 if they’re struggling to manage the disease even with lifestyle changes.

Diabetes Care Editor-in-Chief Dr. William T. Cefalu said that research shows the value of metabolic surgery, a form of bariatric surgery formed for diabetic reasons.

“Given the rapid developments in the field, it is important to focus on this topic for those who care for individuals with diabetes. These new guidelines, based on the results of multiple clinical studies, validate that metabolic surgery is indicated for certain people with diabetes and can yield significantly improved outcomes,” Cefalu said in a news release.

Part of what’s driving the current strategy is the fact that bariatric surgery has proven to be relatively safe, with side effects and risks similar to gallbladder operations or hysterectomies, the Associated Press reported.

Of course, the big problem is cost: Such surgeries have a price tag between $20,000 and $25,000, according to the AP, and aren’t always covered by health insurance.

Diabetes UK’s Sir George Alberti, a coauthor of the guidelines, said that they are designed to help change the discussion about the surgical option.

“We are changing the paradigm here, we are not talking about the treatment of obesity, we are talking about the treatment of diabetes,” Alberti told the Daily Mail.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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