Note: This article is published on ninemsn.com.au, Health & Wellbeing section.
Type 2 diabetes can be reversed or dramatically improved with gastric banding surgery, according to Australian researchers.
Gastric banding surgery is a relatively low risk surgery that involves placing an inflatable ring between the oesophagus and the stomach so people can only eat small amounts of food slowly.
More invasive stomach surgery techniques have been proven effective for diabetes treatments, however they carry risks.
But Professor Katherine Samaras from the Garvan Institute followed 15 morbidly obese people after having the less risky gastric banding surgery and said patients saw improvements within as little as two weeks.
“We’ve known for many years that weight reduction improves diabetes, with recent strong evidence that bariatric surgery substantially improves diabetes," Professor Samaras said in a media release.
"This is the first study to show such dramatic benefits within two weeks using gastric banding." But it wasn't the overall weight loss that caused the improvements –– Professor Samaras said it appears to be the reduced calorie intake that reverses the disease.
"That weight reduction that people make in first two weeks is actually quite modest. So a lot of our patients were still morbidly obese, and yet their diabetes had resolved," Professor Samaras told the ABC.
"That suggests that the calorie restriction is what improves the diabetes, not necessarily the weight reduction. So you can markedly improve diabetes just by cutting calories."
Gastric banding surgery also appears to reduce inflammation, which has been linked with diabetes. “The numbers of circulating pro-inflammatory immune cells were much reduced, mirroring the degree by which glucose levels fell," Professor Samaras said.
While gastric banding may be a solution for obese people who already have diabetes, experts warn that we need to deal with the cause of the problem too.
Kristen Hazelwood, head of education and prevention at the Australian Diabetes Council, told ninemsn that gastric banding surgery should be a last resort.
"They should try and look at their lifestyle and eat in moderation and eat the right food before thinking about the next step," she said.
"People often think it's a solution, but they have to change their lifestyle to be healthier too."
But Hazelwood acknowledged that weight loss is difficult for morbidly obese people.
"Often they were brought up with mums saying, 'Eat everything on your plate', so from an early age they have a tendency to be overweight," she said.
"When they are adults it's hard to lose weight and change their habits. Bariatric surgery helps but their attitude has to change too."
Gastric banding can be expensive and is mostly performed in private hospitals so it is difficult to access if people don't have private health insurance.
The study was published by the journal Diabetologia.
Source: ABC Author: Kimberly Gillan; Approving editor: Rory Kinsella.