Article Source: News.Com.Au
OVERWEIGHT people are resorting to surgery usually reserved for the severely obese for the sake of their health.
And some doctors are now so convinced by the success of lap band surgery in cutting the risk of diabetes that they are calling for it to be available to anyone weighing 80kgs and above.
“The reality is for the vast majority of people, non-surgical intervention is not effective, it doesn’t achieve sustained weight loss that can put diabetes into remission,” says Dr John Wentworth.
He has led a study by Monash University’s Centre for Obesity Research that found people who were overweight and had the surgery lost an average 11kg.
A paper to be presented at a conference of diabetes specialists in Sydney this week shows these patients required significantly less medication to control their diabetes, with more than half entering diabetes remission.
Those who didn’t have the surgery but were put on a diet and exercise plan achieved a weight loss of just 2kg and required intense medication to manage their diabetes.
The average starting weight of the 51 patients who took part in the study was just 81kg.
Current guidelines say lap band surgery should only be performed on those with a BMI of 35 or above – or weighing more than 110-115kgs.
Christine York, who weighed 90kgs and had developed diabetes, volunteered for the trial nearly four years ago.
She lost around 25kgs, plunged from a dress size of 18 to 12 and now weighs 63kgs.
Her diabetes is now in remission.
“It made me realise you can change your life,” she said. “I even got married last year and wore a decent wedding dress not a sack.”
Her previous attempts at dieting had resulted in weight loss of just 4-5kgs.
Dr Wentworth said it would be wrong to see his study as a business building opportunity for obesity surgeons and he cautioned that the research was unable to give an explanation for why only half the surgery patients saw their diabetes go into remission after the weight loss.
“We don’t know why it didn’t work for the other 50 per cent, we don’t fully understand it,” he said.
Around 17,000 Australians a year are now undergoing surgery to control their weight and studies show that ten years after the operation patients have put back on just a third of the weight they lost.
Lap band surgery is expensive however.
It can cost up to $15,000 and requires patients to commit to a lifestyle change and constant follow up.
The procedure involves the use of key hole surgery to fit a plastic ring around the top of the stomach that restricts the flow of food and creates a sense of fullness. It is reversible and the lap band can be adjusted.
It is also not without side effects or risk.
One in eight people who have the surgery suffer an “adverse event” and it can cause gastric reflux, vomiting and digestive disorders.
Three people who had the operation during the Monash study later presented to an emergency department with oesophageal obstruction.