Early weight loss surgery can maximise type 2 diabetes remission rates

by Barbara Hewitt on June 6, 2016

Obese people who develop early onset type 2 diabetes may maximise their chances of remission with surgery to reduce their weight, new research has found.

Prompt action leads to significantly greater weight loss and higher rates of remission, according to the work done by a team at the Min-Sheng General Hospital in Taiwan.

This discovery comes on the back of another study, endorsed by multiple diabetes organisations and charities around the work which endorsed surgery as a form of treatment for obese people with type 2 diabetes.


In this new study scientists discovered a strong association between shorter duration if diabetes and the likelihood or remission among those who developed the condition at the age of 40 years and younger compared to those who were older when diagnosed.

The study looked at two age groups to examine the long and short term effects of weight loss surgery. The 339 people on the early onset group had an average duration of 3.7 year while those in the late onset group had an average duration of 3.8 years so both had had similar lengths of time since diagnosis.

The early onset group had significantly poorer glycaemic control at baseline, yet remission rates were 56.9% versus 50.2% after one year, and 65.3% versus 54.2% after five years.

One year after surgery, average body mass index had decreased by 11.6 kg per square meter in the early onset group and 9.1 kg per square meter in the late onset group, which was a significant difference.

The improvements were retained in the 72 and 48 patients from the early and late onset groups, respectively, who had five year follow up data.

The study says that the duration of diabetes was strongly related to the proportion of weight lost at both one and five years after surgery in the early onset group, and to diabetes remission rates at both time points in early onset patients, but only at one year after surgery in the late onset group.

The highest remission rate was observed among early onset patients whose diabetes had been diagnosed less than a year before surgery, at 91.3% after one year, falling to 79.4% at five years. The corresponding rates among those with diabetes of more than 10 years duration were 25.0% and 12.5%.

“This not only has the potential to reduce their long term need for multiple medications but also has the potential to significantly mitigate their risks of health complications compounded over their lifetime,” the study concluded.

The study also points out that the research adds to the body of data that exists to support early surgery for obese people with type 2 diabetes. Indeed, previous studies have shown that the duration of diabetes, use of insulin, degree of weight loss and type of surgery can influence remission rates.

Experts say that if surgery works it reduces a person’s long term reliance on medication, which is costly, but more significantly has the potential to reduce the risk of health complication caused by type 2 diabetes including heart attack, stroke, kidney problems, eye problems and amputations.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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