New report recommends bariatric surgery for people with risk factors for type 2 diabetes

Bariatric weight loss surgery should be considered earlier in the treatment process for obese individuals who are risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new policy statement from the International Diabetes Federation.

Currently, the procedure is considered more of a last resort for patients who have tried other methods of losing weight but have been unsuccessful. However, the authors of the paper said that it would be far more cost-effective to provide these individuals with bariatric surgery earlier rather than later, as this could help them avoid the accumulation of other health problems associated with obesity.

The paper states that there is increasing evidence to suggest that early bariatric surgery benefits obese individuals not only with their weight, but also with a number of metabolic factors. Studies have shown that the procedure can lead to improvements in blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity.

Helping individuals with these risk factors at an early stage could significantly improve their odds of avoiding type 2 diabetes. The condition can be difficult to control once it has developed fully, but it can take years to set in, giving individuals time to reverse course.

"Bariatric surgery for severely obese people with type 2 diabetes should be considered much earlier in management rather than held back as a last resort," wrote George Alberti, a professor at the Imperial College of London. "It should be incorporated into type 2 diabetes treatment protocols."

The recommendations of the paper could have implications for a large segment of the population. Nearly 80 million people in the U.S. can be considered to have pre-diabetes, a condition that often develops into type 2 diabetes. Bariatric surgery may help many of them avoid this fate.