Intensive Diet and Exercise can Work as well as Weight Loss Surgery for Diabetics

by Barbara Hewitt on May 13, 2015

An intense medical management programme with supervised diet and exercise can work as well as weight loss surgery to help type 2 diabetics get their blood sugar under control, new research has found.

Research in the United States involving obese 40 people aged 50 and over with diabetes and poorly controlled blood sugar saw half of them given surgery and the others intensive medial management with an assessment after a year found that both options produced similar reductions in blood sugar.

exercise (2)‘Individuals motivated to impact their health can have substantial diabetes and weight improvements,’ said senior study author Dr. Allison Goldfine, a researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Centre in Boston.

While medical experts have long recommended exercise, weight loss and a healthy diet to control blood pressure and minimize complications, in recent years a growing number of obese people with diabetes have been offered weight loss surgery as an alternative option for losing weight and getting their blood glucose levels under control.

The study involved a type of weight loss surgery known as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, a minimally invasive procedure that involves placing an adjustable inflatable belt around the upper portion of the stomach.

The band can be made of silicone and tightened by adding saline. It effectively reduces the amount of food the stomach can hold, and people are advised to eat portions about the size of a shot glass post-surgery.

The study team compared this to aggressive medical management by a team of specialists in endocrinology, diabetes education, exercise physiology, nutrition and behavioural health. Participants had two hour weekly group sessions for three months as well as calorie restricted meal plans and supervised exercise sessions.

At the start of the study many of those taking part were taking medication to control blood sugar, lower cholesterol or treat hypertension. The main goal of the study was to see which treatment alternative was most effective at helping to lower blood sugar levels.

At the end of the yearlong study 18 surgery patients and five of the non-surgical patients achieved the target A1c level below 6.5% where diabetes is considered well controlled. And within three months, seven people in each group lost at least 10% of their body weight, but after one year the surgical group achieved a greater weight loss than the participants in medical management.

Because the study was so small, and only followed participants for a year, more research is needed to compare the long term impact of these treatment options, the researchers pointed out.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 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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