Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New guidelines say obesity surgery should be used more often for diabetes

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. [Associated Press]

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. [Associated Press]

WASHINGTON — 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.

But Tuesday's guidelines mark the first time the surgery is recommended specifically as a diabetes treatment rather than as obesity treatment with a side benefit. They expand the number of eligible candidates.

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.

"We do not claim that surgery should be the first-line therapy," cautioned Dr. David E. Cummings, an endocrinologist at the University of Washington and senior author of the guidelines. But as standard care often isn't enough, "it's time for something new."

Here are some things to know:

Diabesity is a serious problem

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.

Does obesity surgery really help with diabetes?

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.

So what's new?

Until now, health guidelines have focused on obesity surgery as a last-resort method for quick weight loss, with diabetes improvement considered a bonus. Tuesday's guidelines examined 11 studies that tracked diabetes patients randomly assigned to bariatric surgery or regular care. They conclude the surgery should be a regularly considered option for certain diabetes patients — with the emphasis on better blood sugar control instead of pounds lost.

Who would qualify?

It's recommended for patients whose BMI, or body mass index, is at least 40, regardless of their overall blood sugar, and for patients with a BMI of at least 35 whose diabetes is inadequately controlled despite lifestyle changes and medication.

Also, the guidelines say surgery can be considered with a BMI as low as 30 for patients with poor control despite usual care.

It's not the pounds that make the difference

While weight loss itself can help Type 2 diabetes, operations such as gastric bypass and other types of bariatric surgery are thought to help in a different way, by affecting hormones, gut bacteria and other substances that affect how the body handles insulin and blood sugar.

Is it safe?

Bariatric surgery — called metabolic surgery when performed for diabetes — has become far less invasive in recent years. The risk of death or serious side effects from surgery is small and comparable to gallbladder operations or hysterectomies, said Dr. Francesco Rubino, chair of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King's College London, who helped write the guidelines.

The cost

Such operations can cost $20,000 to $25,000. Insurance coverage has become more common over the past decade but remains spotty, and many insurers limit coverage to severely obese patients. Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, said insurers will review the diabetes guidelines but that evaluating them will take time.

New guidelines say obesity surgery should be used more often for diabetes 05/24/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 24, 2016 3:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After fraught debate, Trump to disclose new Afghanistan plan

    War

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will unveil his updated Afghanistan policy Monday night in a rare, prime-time address to a nation that broadly shares his pessimism about American involvement in the 16-year conflict. Although he may send a few thousand more troops, there are no signs of a major shift in …

    U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache near the U.S. military base in Bagram, Afghanistan in 2003. Sixteen years of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan have left the insurgents as strong as ever and the nation's future precarious. Facing a quagmire, President Donald Trump on Monday will outline his strategy for a country that has historically snared great powers and defied easy solutions.  [Associated Press (2003)]
  2. Trial begins for man accused of threatening to kill Tampa federal judge

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Jason Jerome Springer was in jail awaiting trial on a firearms charge when he heard inmates talking about a case that had made the news.

    Jason Jerome Springer, 39, is accused of threatening to kill a U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich, according to a federal indictment.  |Hernando County Sheriff's Office photo]
  3. Editorial: Tampa Electric customers should not pay for utility's fatal misjudgments

    Editorials

    There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers. Monetary considerations will not begin to …

    LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
There will be financial fallout from the terrible miscalculations that resulted in five workers being killed in June at Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station. State and federal regulators should ensure those costs are borne by the company's shareholders, not its customers.
  4. Superior Uniform acquires Los Angeles-based PublicIdentity

    Corporate

    SEMINOLE — A subsidiary of Seminole-based Superior Uniform Group has acquired Los Angeles-based branded merchandise company PublicIdentity Inc.

    Superior Uniform Group CEO Michael Benstock
[Courtesy of Superior Uniform Group]
  5. Money is the issue as Hillsborough strains to fix school air conditioners

    K12

    TAMPA — With more than 200 repair requests tumbling in every day, school officials in Hillsborough County are broadening their circle of air conditioning mechanics as they struggle to control a debilitating cycle of breakdowns and sweltering classrooms.

    Hillsborough school officials want to expand the number of contractors who work on broken school air conditioning systems. But it all gets rolled into a workload that has increased by 40 percent since 2011. "With no increase in budget, no increase in equipment and no increase in manpower, and as the equipment gets older and needs more maintenance, this is going to continue to grow," said Robert Weggman, general manager of maintenance." [iStockphoto.com
]