Diabetes risk linked to recent weight change

16 October 2009

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery dramatically reduces the risk of obese people developing diabetes or needing diabetes medicines, new research shows.

A prospective study by Swedish researchers, presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) annual meeting, found obese patients who underwent bariatric surgery had a 75 per cent reduced incidence of diabetes compared with those who did not have surgery.

The researchers analysed the impact of bariatric surgery in 2010 middle-aged obese people with an average body mass index (BMI) of 41.8 kg/m² recruited from 1987 to 2001, compared with 2037 matched nonsurgical controls (people who did not have surgery).

Among those who had surgery, 19 per cent underwent gastric banding, 68 per cent had stomach stapling and 13 per cent had a gastric bypass.

Weight-loss surgery had an effect on diabetes resolution, with 35 per cent no longer having diabetes following surgery compared to 11 per cent of controls.

Pooled data from both groups revealed recent weight changes, not current degree of obesity, were also related to diabetes incidence.

Those with a BMI of 40-45 who had reduced it by 0-5 over the preceding 2 years had a diabetes incidence of almost 4 per cent compared with 2 per cent in those with a BMI of 35-40 who had achieved a similar reduction.

“This suggests that diabetes incidence is much more closely associated with recent weight change than we currently realise,” lead researcher Professor Lars Sjöström from the University of Gothenburg said.

Data also showed intensive glucose control achieved with bariatric surgery had no adverse effects on mortality, myocardial infarction (heart attack) or cancer risk, he said.

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