Obesity Surgery Beats Drugs for Diabetes

Obesity surgery beats drugs for treating uncontrolled diabetes according to a new study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. Surgery plus medical treatment in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes resulted in better control of diabetes, healthier weight, less drug use, and better quality of life than the control group that received intensive medical treatment.

Philip Schauer, lead author of the study, noted that even patients with mild obesity benefited just as much as heavier patients in the study. Schauer went on to say:

In some ways the gap between the benefit of surgery and medical treatment was even greater over time, since the improvements after the operation persisted and patients getting only intensive drug treatment worsened over time. Not only is surgery more effective at getting to a good blood sugar control, even to near normal levels, it maintains that benefit.

Commenting on these results, American Heart Association President Mariell Jessup said:

It’s unfortunate we have to resort to surgery. But our guidelines recognize that obesity should be considered a disease and we need to approach it that way.

We can’t help but wonder. If this were any other disease but obesity, would we be saying it’s a shame we have found a more effective treatment?

Click here to read more from Bloomberg BusinessWeek and here to read the study itself.

Diabetes 2 of 4, photograph © Dennis Skley / flickr

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