Study shows benefits of weight loss surgery for people with type 2 diabetes

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A new study reveals the health benefits of weight loss surgery for people with type 2 diabetes. The findings were recently published on CNN.

The study has local ties because two of the researchers are from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge.

“This is the longest and the largest study of its kind,” said Dr. John Kirwan, executive director, Pennington Biomedical Research Center. 

Kirwan studied over 300 people with type 2 diabetes. Some participants were told to control their condition with medicine and lifestyle changes, while others had bariatric surgery.

“The patients who underwent bariatric surgery had better glucose control, they had, they took fewer medications to maintain their health and more of those patients went into complete diabetes remission, had no diabetes, at seven years and up to 12 years,” said Kirwan.

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The study revealed bariatric surgery was superior for overweight patients with type 2 diabetes. 

“This is the latest and the greatest data that we have in this field for this observation,” said Kirwan.

The findings also showed the many benefits of weight loss surgery.

“It truly demonstrates the efficacy of surgery and producing this result of better glucose control and more patients staying in remission for a longer period of time,” said Kirwan.

Dr. Philip Schauer with Pennington Biomedical Research Center also worked on the study with Kirwan.

“As a surgeon, I often see people who have diabetes out of control the day before surgery and then with two to three days before there is much weight loss, their diabetes is in remission,” said Schauer.

Schauer said the findings from the study could have an impact on insurance companies and patients.

Currently, most providers will cover bariatric surgery for type 2 diabetes and a body mass index of 35 or higher. However, this study could change the BMI required.

“Many patients in this trial had a body mass index much lower than 35 and even those patients with diabetes did very well, because of that, we’re now beginning to see insurance companies lower the BMI threshold to 30 or even lower,” said Schauer.

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Schauer also said he hopes this will encourage employers to cover weight loss surgery.

“That they think very carefully about this because surgery is effective long term and there are also studies showing that it is actually cheaper,” said Schauer.

Both doctors are encouraged by the findings and plan to continue their research. To view the study, click here.

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