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Study: Weight Loss Surgery Keeps Diabetes At Bay Long Term, Reverses Complications

Fri, 09/20/2013 - 9:37am
Ryan Jaslow

Weight loss surgery may keep diabetes and heart woes at bay for long periods of time -- and might even reverse some disease complications, new research suggests.

Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic looked at a group of people with diabetes who underwent weight loss, or bariatric, surgery to treat their obesity. After tracking patients for up to nine years after getting the procedure, the researchers found obesity-related health conditions like diabetes vanished for several of them.

Specifically, 80 percent of patients who had the surgeries met target blood sugar levels of 7 percent HbA1c, a level recommended by the American Diabetes Association. Nearly 30 percent of those who underwent a gastric bypass procedure experienced complete remission of diabetes that allowed them to stay off medication for at least five years, effectively curing them.

"That was a remarkable finding," Dr. Stacy Brethauer, the study's author and an associate director of the Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, said to CBSNews.com.

Obesity affects nearly 36 percent of Americans, raising their risk for related health conditions for Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the U.S.

Obesity itself was declared a "disease" by the American Medical Association in June so doctors would tackle it with immediate treatment rather than look at it like a lifestyle condition that needs to modified.

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