As more research is conducted on the development and spread of pandemic type II diabetes, there is more evidence than ever that diabetes is intricately linked to obesity, which is spreading in the US at an alarming rate.

To combat the struggle of managing type II diabetes, physicians have turned to unconventional methods to reduce fat and likewise combat diabetes symptoms.  Obesity reduction was the theme of the 2009 UK Diabetes Professional Conference in Glasgow, and efforts to treat and reverse diabetes through bariatric surgery was one of the most controversial topics.

A recent report published in the American Journal of Medicine showed results that showed type II diabetes was completely resolved in 78% of patients who underwent bariatric surgery. These findings were maintained for at least two years.

Being overweight (BMI 25 and up) or obese (BMI 30 and up) can significantly increase health risks including type II diabetes and other serious complications. Diabetes specialists in the UK have recently approved
bariatric surgery efforts, including gastric bypass and lapband, surgeries to manage diabetes and possibly stem other diseases resulting from obesity. Photo credit: NIH

Surgical procedures including gastric bypass surgery and lapband surgery provide dramatic weight loss, which is sustained for much longer periods than diet and exercise efforts alone, but have also been seen to provide a rapid improvement of type II diabetes even before a significant amount of weight is lost. Due to alterations in gastric hormone-pancreas-brain pathways, blood glucose levels are normalized to the point where medication is no longer needed.

However, the issue still remains that undergoing bariatric surgery is a major operation, and the risks are high. This procedure should not being undergone lightly, and constitutes a major lifestyle change. Operations such as these are also expensive and not readily available to those with lacking or no health insurance.

The data still suggests that diabetes can be controlled through weight loss efforts, and unfortunately for most people with a BMI of 30 and over, bariatric surgery may be one of the only feasible long term options.
“Bariatric surgery not only helps achieve substantial weight loss and weight loss maintenance, but significantly improves and even resolves other associated conditions such as type II diabetes,” says Dr. Nicolas Finer, Consultant Endocrinologist at UCL Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and member of NICE advisory board for bariatric surgery. “Our challenge is to increase accessibility and availability of this treatment.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines overweight as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or higher, and obesity as a BMI of 30 or higher. Having a high BMI significantly increases the risk of developing serious health consequences including type II diabetes.  The CDC also identifies other serious health risks associated with overweight or obese BMIs including coronary heart disease, the number 1 cause of death in America, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, various cancers, stroke, osteoarthritis, and respiratory problems.  Patients undergoing bariatric surgery could not only solve their diabetes, but could also eliminate some of the other serious health risks associated with obesity.  According to the US Surgeon General report, obesity is responsible for 300,000 deaths every year.


Buchwald et. al. "Weight and Type 2 Diabetes after Bariatric Surgery:Systematic Review and Meta-analysis." The American Journal of Medicine, (3) 2009.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention; Overweight and Obesity

American Sports Data Inc.; Obesity Statistics