Researchers seek to explain mechanism behind the type 2 diabetes benefits of weight loss surgery

It's a mystery that has vexed type 2 diabetes researchers and doctors for years: why are obese patients who undergo weight loss surgery able to resolve their diabetes so quickly, often before they have even lost any weight? A team of researchers from the Lund University Diabetes Center plan to answer this question.

Weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass and other types of bariatric procedures have become a common way for significantly overweight individuals who are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, or who already have the condition, to lose extra fat. However, in a high percentage of these cases, doctors have noted that patients are able to resolve their metabolic conditions rapidly.

Since this often takes place before the patient has lost any weight, the researchers believe that a mechanism underlies this phenomenon that is independent of body fat, the most common cause of diabetes in these individuals. They believe that identifying this process may lead to improved treatments for diabetes that could eliminate the need of bariatric surgeries all together.

"We don't mean that everyone with type 2 diabetes should undergo surgery, but maybe we can learn to achieve the same anti-diabetic effect without the surgery," said Nils Wierup, who will lead the investigation.

The researchers believe that changes in gastric hormones may explain the phenomenon. Levels of certain hormones in the gut are known to influence blood sugar, and it has previously been suggested that weight loss surgeries may alter these hormone levels.

The team of investigators is currently recruiting participants into their study, which will examine a wide range of metabolic measures after the individuals undergo weight loss surgery as an attempt to resolve their type 2 diabetes.