The Monash University study, led by Emeritus Professor Paul O'Brien and Dr John Wentworth from the Centre for Obesity Research and Education (CORE), has determined that weight loss surgery (gastric banding) for overweight people with diabetes had a profound impact on the illness.
The research has been released today in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology
"This is the first randomised controlled trial demonstrating that treatment of type 2 diabetes in overweight people by substantial weight loss is safe and hugely beneficial," Professor O'Brien said. "As there are no alternative options that can achieve such a result, this study indicates a potentially attractive path for the overweight person with diabetes and for those providing the care."
The study looked at people who suffered diabetes and were overweight, but not obese. The connection between excessive body weight and diabetes is well known, but while the benefits of weight loss for obese people suffering type 2 diabetes have been well document, it has not been clear if those who were overweight would enjoy the same benefits.
The study enrolled 50 people with diabetes who were overweight, but not obese, with a body mass index between 25 and 30.
"We provided a comprehensive program of multidisciplinary care to all of the participants, but randomly allocated half of them to receive an additional treatment of adjustable gastric banding," Professor O'Brien explained.
"The surgery was conducted as an outpatient procedure with no significant adverse effects. We were pleased to see was that after two years into the trial, more than half of the banded group were in remission of their diabetes while only eight per cent of the non banded group were in remission."
The results showed a strong relationship between the amount of weight loss and remission of diabetes, clearly showing that successful ways of reducing weight such as gastric banding should have a high priority in the treatment of diabetes.
With over a million Australians suffering from type 2 diabetes, and an additional 270 people per day being diagnosed with the illness, the need to manage diabetes has never been greater.