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Bariatric Surgery and Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes in Swedish Obese Subjects
Weight loss protects against type 2 diabetes but is hard to maintain with behavioral modification alone. In an analysis of data from a nonrandomized, prospective, controlled study, we examined the effects of bariatric surgery on the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
In this analysis, we included 1658 patients who underwent bariatric surgery and 1771 obese matched controls (with matching performed on a group, rather than individual, level). None of the participants had diabetes at baseline. Patients in the bariatric-surgery cohort underwent banding (19%), vertical banded gastroplasty (69%), or gastric bypass (12%); nonrandomized, matched, prospective controls received usual care. Participants were 37 to 60 years of age, and the body-mass index (BMI; the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) was 34 or more in men and 38 or more in women. This analysis focused on the rate of incident type 2 diabetes, which was a prespecified secondary end point in the main study. At the time of this analysis (January 1, 2012), participants had been followed for up to 15 years. Despite matching, some baseline characteristics differed significantly between the groups; the baseline body weight was higher and risk factors were more pronounced in the bariatric-surgery group than in the control group. At 15 years, 36.2% of the original participants had dropped out of the study, and 30.9% had not yet reached the time for their 15-year follow-up examination.
During the follow-up period, type 2 diabetes developed in 392 participants in the control group and in 110 in the bariatric-surgery group, corresponding to incidence rates of 28.4 cases per 1000 person-years and 6.8 cases per 1000 person-years, respectively (adjusted hazard ratio with bariatric surgery, 0.17; 95% confidence interval, 0.13 to 0.21; P<0.001). The effect of bariatric surgery was influenced by the presence or absence of impaired fasting glucose (P=0.002 for the interaction) but not by BMI (P=0.54). Sensitivity analyses, including end-point imputations, did not change the overall conclusions. The postoperative mortality was 0.2%, and 2.8% of patients who underwent bariatric surgery required reoperation within 90 days owing to complications.
Bariatric surgery appears to be markedly more efficient than usual care in the prevention of type 2 diabetes in obese persons. (Funded by the Swedish Research Council and others; ClinicalTrials.gov number, .).
COMMENT: In my view the question no longer is whether or not bariatric surgery is an effective approach to the treatment of obesity, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes-it is. The questions are can any society afford using bariatric surgery as a first line treatment of these conditions and what alternatives might be considered? Given that two new oral anti-obesity drugs have just been approved after a 10-year hiatus, we desperately need studies on the effectiveness of these drugs in clinical settings and their side effects. The truth of the matter is that obesity is a public health problem in addition to a medical problem. We have better start taking this seriously in the public health arena.