Besides its apparent purpose of helping individuals lose weight, bariatric surgery can also reduce risks for type 2 diabetes.

In a new study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology on Nov. 3, Martin Gulliford from the King's College London, UK, and colleagues sought to assess the effects of weight loss surgery on a person's odds of developing type 2 Diabetes.

The researchers involved 2,167 individuals who were not diagnosed with diabetes at the start of the study and who underwent at least one of three surgical weight loss procedures which include sleeve gastrectomy, laparoscopic adjustable banding, and gastric bypass.

These participants were then compared with 2,167 other individuals with similar age, body mass index, gender and glucose control without diabetes and who did not undergo any weight loss surgery or other obesity treatments.

Gulliford and colleagues followed the participants for up to seven years and found that those who underwent bariatric surgery had 80 percent reduced odds of developing diabetes than those who did not undergo weight loss surgery regardless of factors such as cholesterol levels, blood pressure and smoking.

Of those who did not undergo weight loss surgery, 117 were diagnosed with diabetes while those who underwent any of the three bariatric procedures only had 38 diagnoses.

"Our study is perhaps the first large-scale pragmatic study to assess the effect of current bariatric surgical procedures on diabetes incidence in the context of usual care settings," the researchers wrote. "Even in patients seen in routine clinical practice, our results show that modern bariatric surgical procedures have particular effectiveness for diabetes prevention in obese patients."

Being overweight or obese increases a person's likelihood of developing Type 2 Diabetes. In adults who have the condition, over 80 percent have weight problems and health experts recommend weight loss as a means of preventing or delaying the onset of the disease.

The researchers wrote that treating obesity with lifestyle or behavioral approaches only often results in small reduction in body weight that is not often sustained. Weight loss surgery, on the other hand, is associated with substantial weight loss, reduced morbidity and improvements in the quality of a patient's life.

"Our results suggest that bariatric surgery may be a highly effective method of preventing the onset of new diabetes in men and women with severe obesity," Gulliford said. "We need to understand how weight loss surgery can be used, together with interventions to increase physical activity and promote healthy eating, as part of an overall diabetes prevention strategy."

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