Researchers test effects of bariatric surgery in lower BMI diabetes patients

While the best medicine for avoiding type 2 diabetes - eating well and exercising - may be relatively simple, it is something that many people have an extremely hard time doing. Because of this, a team of researchers from New York-Presbyterian Hospital is planning to test the effectiveness of bariatric surgery in treating the symptoms of diabetes in people who are overweight but not obese.

Previous studies have shown that bariatric surgery is an effective means of treating diabetes in individuals who are severely obese. These patients have a body mass index of 35 or above. However, less is known about the effects of this surgery on people suffer from type 2 diabetes but have a more moderate BMI.

The group plans on testing the effectiveness of bariatric surgery in diabetes patients who have a BMI between 26 and 35. This would put them in the overweight or mildly obese categories. The researchers said that they hope the surgery will provide similar results in these patients as it does for the severely obese. These benefits include improved blood sugar control, reduced medication need and lowered risk of diabetes-related death.

"There is preliminary evidence suggesting that that these results are attainable even in overweight or mildly-obese patients," says Dr. Francesco Rubino, who will lead the investigation. "We need rigorous, comparative clinical trials, like this one, in order to better understand when to prioritize surgery and when to recommend traditional medical treatment."

Aside from improving diabetes symptoms through surgery, Rubino said that he hopes the study will reveal better criteria than BMI for deciding which patients need bariatric surgery. By showing that the procedure can have benefits for those with lower BMIs, the study may convince insurers to cover the surgery for more people.