My Bariatric Life: Study Shows Weight-Loss Surgery Effective Treatment for Diabetes, Other Diseases
The UK's first large-scale study on the impact of weight-loss surgery for obesity has reported a large reduction in type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
The National Bariatric Surgery Registry (NBSR) found the procedures to be safe and reported that one-year after bariatric surgery patients lost nearly 60% of their excess weight on average. It found that 50% of those affected by diabetes before surgery showed no indication of the disease, with the rate rising to 86% after two years. There was also improvement on all associated diseases.
The report included detailed follow up data for 1,421 operations carried out between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2010. Of these, 379 patients had type 2 diabetes before surgery, while one year later that figure had fallen to 188.
Data from 86 hospitals showed that around two-thirds of severely obese patients have three or more associated diseases by the time they reach surgery. Meanwhile, a third have high blood pressure, over a quarter have diabetes and nearly a fifth have high cholesterol.
I had my operation in August 2003. By that time, obesity had caused me to have type 2 diabetes, hypertension, acid reflux, and sleep apnea. I was on five prescription medicines for diabetes and hypertension, including insulin, and one for acid reflux.
Before my bariatric surgery, I was 285lbs. with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 46. I was at the 98th percentile, which meant that my weight was greater than 98% of other people. After surgery, my weight dropped to 173lbs. I achieved a BMI of 27, and at the 49th percentile, I was close to average weight.
Type 2 diabetes never truly goes away - diabetes cannot be cured, contrary to popular belief. But I have been medication-free since losing my excess weight and my A1C tests (a blood test to determine blood sugar control for patients with diabetes) are always normal. Simply speaking, I have no indication of diabetes. Plus, my hypertension, acid reflux, and sleep apnea have been eliminated. I am restored to health completely.
According to the NBSR, the data show that bariatric surgery is both safe and successfully treats a whole range of diseases including the rapid resolution of diabetes. The cost of bariatric surgery, which includes gastric bypass and gastric bands, is recouped within three years as obesity associated costs are eliminated.
Obesity is the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Every two minutes a person dies of weight-related causes, according to a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Given its known correlation to life-threatening comorbid conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and even heart disease, stroke, and premature death, obesity is a disease that requires medical treatment.
Unfortunately, most conservative weight-loss treatments are ineffective over the long term - as a preponderance of data, published literature, and scientific research have found that diet and exercise are unsuccessful in 80-85 percent of overweight and obese patients at one year, according to articles in the International Journal of Obesity and the New England Journal of Medicine.
Weight-loss surgery, including gastric bypass and gastric banding, are proving to play a critical role in providing an effective treatment option for obese patients whose health is impacted by their weight, when more conservative weight-loss therapies, like supervised diet, exercise and behavior modification fail.