Experts Agree: Weight Loss Surgery Is Best Treatment For Type II Diabetes

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An estimated 29 million Americans have Type II Diabetes, a condition in which the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to utilize sugar in the blood. As a result, these individuals have high blood sugar, a condition which has been correlated with heart disease, kidney disease, poor peripheral blood flow, and loss of eyesight, to name a few. In fact, Type II Diabetes is one of the leading contributing causes of death in the United States today and is one of the major reasons that people need dialysis to replace normal kidney function.

While Type II Diabetes can be treated with oral medications that sensitize cells in the body to insulin that is produced, eventually many people need to rely on insulin injections, which can be both costly and painful. As physicians struggle to help those with Type II Diabetes understand the relationship between carbohydrates, activity and blood sugar levels, there are many people who still have difficulty controlling their blood sugar, leaving them at risk for the myriad conditions associated with Type II Diabetes.

Many diabetics have to take insulin injections to treat their condition. [Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]

What causes Type II Diabetes? Although it appears to have a genetic component, most physicians agree that being overweight is a major risk factor, and now, even overweight children are being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, due to poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. The main difference between Type I and Type II Diabetes is that Type I cannot be controlled by diet or weight loss; it is classified as an auto-immune disorder in which the pancreas may stop making insulin altogether. It used to be known as “juvenile diabetes” because it was the only type seen in children, but as American children and children in all other first-world countries become overweight or obese, Type II Diabetes is occurring in children in well.

The damage from Diabetes is gradual and collective – the longer your blood sugar is high, and the higher it is, the greater your risk of serious complications. While many people try to follow healthy diets and exercise after diagnosis, many fail to be able to continue that healthy lifestyle due to socioeconomic reasons, other life demands, and the availability of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor food everywhere.

Diabetic patients may be able to control their insulin levels with oral medication. [Photo By John Moore/Getty Images]

According to My Central Jersey, many physicians are now advocating for weight-loss surgery (often called bariatric surgery) as a treatment for Type II Diabetes. In fact, many people are cured of Type II Diabetes after bariatric surgery. Diabetes Care, a publication of the American Diabetes Association, has made an official statement in its June 2016 edition that weight-loss surgery should be utilized far more than it is for the control of Type II Diabetes, and should be a standard recommendation in many cases, even in people who are only mildly obese (Body Mass Index of 30 -35). It should be noted that not all physicians agree with using BMI as a tool for measuring obesity, particularly for those with a large amount of muscle mass. For most people, however, the BMI is a good tool to gauge body fat.

There are several options for weight loss surgery – gastric bypass procedure or gastric sleeve procedure. In the first procedure, the esophagus is routed directly to the small intestine, and in the second procedure, the stomach capacity is reduced drastically in size. After these procedures, people find that they often cannot tolerate fatty foods, and can only eat very small amounts of food at a time. Since the stomach actually produces a hunger hormone, bypassing the stomach or greatly reducing its size may make people feel far less hungry. Weight loss after these surgeries is fairly rapid, and the less body mass one has, the less insulin they need. That’s why weight loss surgery is hailed as a “cure” for many people – they are then able to produce enough insulin for their body mass, and as a result, have normal blood sugar.

Of course, as with any surgery, there are risks involved, and there are some people who are not candidates due to being at risk for blood clots or being on blood thinners. But according to Diabetes Care, far more people should be considered for the procedure than are receiving it. Reasons for that are unclear, but studies continue on the relationship between Type II Diabetes and bariatric surgery.

[Featured Image by Matt Cardy/Getty Images]