We ve commented before on studies that demonstrate the benefits of bariatric surgery for weight loss and remission of type 2 diabetes. Most of these studies have not followed the participants for more than a few years, leaving open the question of whether or not these benefits are maintained. A new study, one that followed participants for 18 years, has just been published in the latest edition of JAMA.
Dr. Lars Sjostrom from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and colleagues began the Swedish Obese Subjects (SOS) study in 1987, with recruitment of participants continuing until 2001. The study is a prospective cohort study, which followed the obese participants, examined them for onset or continuation of diabetes as well as for the occurrence of diabetes complications.
There were 2010 patients who underwent some form of bariatric surgery: Of these, 232 had diabetes initially. Of the 2038 non-surgical control patients, 260 had diabetes at baseline.
After 15 years of follow-up, the diabetes remission rate was 7 percent in the control group, and 30 percent in the bariatric surgery patients a highly significant difference. In addition, the cumulative incidence of microvascular complications (neuropathy, eye and kidney problems, for example) was 42 per 1000 person-years in the non-surgical group, versus only 21 per 1000 person-years in the surgical group, again, a highly significant difference. In addition, those participants whose diabetes was of relatively recent origin (e.g. less than one year) initially maintained their remission to a greater degree than those whose diabetes had lasted 4 years or more.
In their conclusions, the authors stated, bariatric surgery was associated with more frequent diabetes remission and fewer complications than usual care. Importantly, they also emphasized, These findings require confirmation in randomized trials.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava noted These results are extremely important for Americans, since the CDC just released a report that 29 million people in the United States have diabetes that s 3 million more than they found only 4 years ago! Even more concerning, she continued, is that 28 percent (that s over 8 million!) of those people don t know they are diabetic. It s easy to determine, with simple blood tests, whether a person has diabetes, and everyone, especially those with a family history or who are overweight, should find out their status.