Diet as Effective as Bariatric Surgery for Managing Blood Sugar (And a lot Safer)

Diet for Diabetes

For those with Type-2 diabetes, bariatric surgery has been shown by certain studies to have therapeutic effects on metabolic function independent of just weight loss. However, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that it is indeed weight loss ls which yields the most dramatic improvements for those with diabetes. And so the argument for surgery seems weaker. 

Researchers measured the glucose levels of 22 people who both have diabetes and are obese, split into a bariatric surgery group and a diet-induced weight-loss group. Both groups saw a nearly identical increase in glucose suppression. Mostly, measuring glucose suppression shows whether the pituitary gland produces too much glucose, a substance that in large doses can harm or kill people with diabetes. People who are overweight have higher amounts of glucose.

As such, weight loss can dramatically improve a person’s ability to manage diabetes. The importance of this study underlines the fact that it doesn’t truly matter how weight loss is achieved, and therefore bariatric surgery, which touts added benefits, may not be deemed as necessary.

This revelation can save patients money and the pain and potential risks of surgery. Bariatric surgery side effects include acid reflux, chronic vomiting, infection, and the inability to eat certain foods. More serious long-term effects can include ulcers, bowel obstruction, malnutrition, and hernias.

While a 22-person study paints a tiny portrait, prioritizing dietary weight loss versus going under the knife seems like a positive. Essentially, dieting isn’t a concept that needs to be sold to patients—it’s been proven to work. The importance of this study lies in the discovery that the surgery doesn’t work any better.

Andrew Gutman

Andrew Gutman

Andrew Gutman is the Managing Editor of MedShadow and a former Senior Associate Editor for Muscle & Fitness. He writes about exercise and nutrition for Business Insider, Insider Health, Gear Patrol, and Men's Health.

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