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Surgery Reverses Type 2 Diabetes in Teens

Gastric Bypass Weight Loss Surgery May Halt Diabetes in Obese Youths
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 29, 2008 -- A popular type of weight loss surgery among adults may reverse the course of type 2 diabetes in extremely obese adolescents.

A small new study shows Roux-en-Y gastric bypass weight loss surgery halted the use of medications for type 2 diabetes in 10 out of 11 obese adolescents treated with the procedure. And the surgery reduced their risk factors for heart disease.

"Although the long-term efficacy of Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is not known, these findings suggest that Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is an effective treatment option for the treatment of extremely obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes," write researcher Thomas H. Inge, MD, of Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and colleagues in Pediatrics.

Researchers say type 2 diabetes has traditionally been considered an adult disease. But with the rise of childhood obesity, the rate of type 2 diabetes among children has increased more than tenfold in the last two decades, from 3% to nearly half of all new pediatric diabetes cases.

Weight Loss Surgery for Diabetes

Previous studies have shown that weight loss surgery can prompt the remission of type 2 diabetes in adults, but this is the first to show that the treatment may have the same effect in adolescents.

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the most common form of weight loss surgery.

In the study, researchers examined the effects of the gastric bypass surgery on 11 extremely obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes and numerous heart disease risk factors.

A year after the weight loss surgery, researchers found evidence of remission of type 2 diabetes in all but one of the patients.

Specifically, the average BMI (body mass index, a measure of obesity) was reduced by 34% and fasting blood glucose and insulin concentrations decreased by 41% and 81%, respectively. Improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, two major risk factors for heart disease, were also found.

In comparison, a group of 67 similarly obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes who were treated medically without surgery for one year did not lose weight and did not experience any beneficial drop in blood pressure or need for diabetes medication.

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