Obesity is a growing problem in the United States and around the world today. Experts want to limit its growth due to the fact that it causes diabetes, heart disease and more. So, should you have bariatric surgery to lose weight?

BBC news reports on whether you should take your doctor’s suggestion of getting bariatric surgery. Many doctors recommend it but who is the ideal candidate for it?

Some experts are also recommending the surgery now being that it can reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Physicians followed almost 5,000 people as part of a trial to assess the health impact of the procedure.

How was the study conducted?

What were the results?

The results were published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal. It showed an 80% reduction in type 2 diabetes in those having surgery.

What does this mean for society? The UK NHS might offer the procedure to tens of thousands of people to prevent diabetes. Experts say that obesity and type 2 diabetes are closely tied - the larger someone is, the higher the risk of the condition.

What other problems could arise due to obesity?

The inability to control blood sugar levels can lead to blindness, amputations and nerve damage.

What were the results?

“The study followed 2,167 obese adults who had weight loss - known as bariatric - surgery. They were compared to 2,167 fellow obese people who continued as they were. There were 38 cases of diabetes after surgery compared with 177 in people left, as they were - a reduction of nearly 80%. Around 3% of morbidly obese people develop type 2 each year, however, surgery reduced the figure to around 0.5%, which is the background figure for the whole population,” according to the BBC.

Bariatric surgery is considered a fast resort for those who are obese and want to avoid diabetes. It can quickly get rid of body fat. Thousands of people have the surgery every year. The two common types are gastric band and gastric bypass.

What do health officials say?

The BBC reports, “Current guidance says surgery is a possible option for people with a BMI above 35 who have other health conditions. But new draft guidelines argue much thinner people should be considered on a case by case basis and those with a BMI of 35 should automatically considered for surgery. Diabetes UK says around 460,000 people will meet the criteria for an automatic assessment under the guidance. But the total jumps nearer to 850,000 when those with a BMI of 30 are also considered, it says.”

Around one in four or one in three adults in the country are obese today. And almost fifty percent of men are categorized as overweight. The figure for women is generally less, at around thirty-five percent. Having a high BMI can cut a person’s life span by ten years. The surgery is considered safe in the long term as well. Most patients are able to keep the weight off and lead a healthier and happier life.

Mr. O'Neill, the director of health intelligence at Diabetes UK, said

“This is interesting research that reinforces what we already know about weight loss being important for both preventing and managing type 2 diabetes. Looking at the bigger picture, as a society we also need to focus more on stopping people becoming overweight, we need to look seriously at how we can make sure people are getting support to lose weight through access to the right services to encourage them to make healthy choices.”

Being overweight can also lead to certain cancers.

Reuters reports on how a high triglycerides count can lead to prostate cancer. 

“A new study has linked high triglyceride levels with biochemical recurrence of prostate cancer. Among men who had surgery for prostate cancer, those with elevated triglyceride levels before surgery were 35% more likely to show signs of a cancer recurrence than men with normal preoperative levels,” according to Reuters.

This finding gives men even more reason to get bariatric surgery. 

Gerry Oginski
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