International diabetes organizations are calling for weight-loss surgery to become a more routine treatment option for diabetes, even for some patients who are only mildly obese.
Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are a deadly pair, and numerous studies show stomach-shrinking operations can dramatically improve diabetes.
The recommendations were endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, the International Diabetes Federation and 43 other health groups, and published in the journal Diabetes Care.
About 26 million Americans have diabetes, mostly the Type 2 form where the body gradually loses the ability to produce or use insulin to turn food into energy. Many Type 2 diabetics, although not all, are overweight or obese. Many can control the disease with diet, exercise, medication or insulin — but years of poorly controlled diabetes can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, amputations or blindness.
Studies have long shown that most obese diabetics who undergo bariatric surgery see their blood sugar control dramatically improve. Some even reach normal levels despite quitting their regular medicine. The surgery is not considered a cure, because some people relapse. But others have remained in remission for years.