Top 10 Stories in Obesity and
Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

Published in December 2014 Issue             

Obesity and metabolic and bariatric surgery were hot topics for the media in 2014. There was a big focus on the curative powers of metabolic surgery as new studies emerged demonstrating great success in treating type 2 diabetes in both the short- and long-term. Patient access to bariatric surgery was the subject of a major global news story from the Associated Press. The article raised the issue that despite its high safety and effectiveness, relative few patients get the surgery. There was coverage of the Obesity Guidelines, which suggested 32 million Americans could be considered for bariatric surgery. The media also gave us an update on Governor Chris Christie’s progress since gastric band surgery. Many ASMBS leaders and members were featured in several of these stories.

Please read the top 10 stories below which also include new statistics about the obesity epidemic and national headlines that call the effectiveness of diets into question.

Surgery Gives Long-Term Help for Obese Diabetics

New research is boosting hopes that weight-loss surgery can put some patients' diabetes into remission for years and perhaps in some cases, for good.

Weight Loss Surgery: Diabetes Cure?

A recent study found that type 2 diabetes can stay in remission for as long as 15 years after weight-loss surgery. Remission happens when a person with diabetes achieves blood sugar levels no longer in the diabetes range without medications for at least one year. The research bolstered previous shorter-term findings that suggest the surgery somehow changes the body’s metabolism and calms diabetes in certain people.

Insulin is “a life-saving medicine, but it can make you gain more weight,” says John Morton, MD. He's the chief of bariatric and minimally invasive surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. Morton and other surgeons say they've seen dramatic drops in insulin levels in their patients post-surgery over the years. “It was considered a weight-loss operation, but it is truly a metabolic operation,” Morton says.

Better Diabetes Remission After Weight Loss Surgery Than Other Methods

More than 20 years of evidence suggests that bariatric surgery produces greater weight loss and more type 2 diabetes remissions than nonsurgical treatments for the obese, according to a review.

More Evidence Weight-Loss Surgery Helps Against Diabetes

Weight-loss surgery might do more than help people shed pounds. For some who have the surgery, it may also put type 2 diabetes into remission for several years, a new
study suggests.

Few Eligible Patients Can Get Weight Loss Surgery

Last year, about 160,000 U.S. patients underwent weight loss surgery — roughly the same number as in 2004. That's only about 1 percent of the estimated 18 million adults who qualify nationwide for the surgery, according to the American Society for Metabolic and
Bariatric Surgery.

"If we were talking about breast cancer, no one would be content with having only one percent of that population treated," says Dr. John Morton, professor of surgery at Stanford University. "Yet if you look at the impact of obesity on life expectancy, it's by far one of the most dangerous conditions we have in public health."

New Guidelines: 65% of Americans Need Help with Weight Loss

Largely because the criteria have been expanded to include more categories of overweight people and still include all obese people, new weight-loss guidelines issued last year recommend behavioral treatment for 140 million American adults—65% of the population, a new study indicates. Of these, 116 million would be candidates for adjunctive pharmacotherapy, and 32 million could be considered for bariatric surgery.

Governor Christie Winning Weight Loss Campaign

“He’s lost 100 pounds, if not a little bit more, which puts him on a very good track,” said Dr. Jaime Ponce, immediate past president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. “The pictures are very impressive,” he said, commenting on photos.

New Study Calls Popular Diets Into Question

Fad diets promise the world, but a new study has demonstrated that they rarely deliver in the long run. Researchers at McGill University in Canada conducted clinical trials on four popular diets: Weight Watchers, the Zone, the South Beach Diet and Atkins. They discovered that dieters on these programs lost weight in the short term but regained pounds within 24 months. The study was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

“Despite their popularity and their substantial contribution to the billion-dollar weight loss industry, the efficacy of these diets in promoting sustained weight loss and improving cardiovascular risk factors remains unclear,” the researchers wrote. “Our results suggest that all 4 diets are modestly efficacious for short-term weight loss, but that these benefits are not sustained long-term.”

Obesity Rates Reach Historic Highs in More U.S. States

Rates of adult obesity increased in six U.S. states and fell in none last year, and in more states than ever - 20 - at least 30% of adults are obese, according to an analysis released on September 2014.

Obesity Epidemic Costs World $2 Trillion a Year, Study Says

Oesity isn’t just causing a global health crisis. It is also exacting a high economic toll. The global obesity epidemic is costing the world economy $2 trillion a year in health-care costs, investments to mitigate its impact and lost productivity, according to a new study published Wednesday by the McKinsey Global Institute. The economic research arm of consulting firm McKinsey notes that figure is roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product of countries such as Italy and Russia.