“The field has suffered from a checkered history 20, 30 years ago, when there were operations that were dangerous. But modern metabolic surgery is very safe,” Cummings said. “The risk of dying from a laparoscopic gastric bypass is a little bit less than the risk of dying from having your gallbladder or appendix removed. But we never consider those risky surgeries; they’re totally bread-and-butter procedures.”
Recent global increase in diabetes, especially type II diabetes, is a product of the global obesity epidemic and attendant increase in Metabolic syndrome. In turn this has fueled an increase in surgical intervention in the form of Bariatric surgery. Diabetes reversal often follows sustained weight loss and indeed a 2014 Cochrane review of such surgeries found diabetes improvement in 5 randomized clinical trials (4). However, depending on the country and insurance plans, such weight loss surgery can be costly. They're also not risk-free with risks varying greatly depending on the person's overall health profile and age as well as skill and experience of the surgeon.
Gupta says that with her patients, “we typically emphasize cutting out processed food and sugary drinks to begin with, and exercise recommendations include 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week, and two to three days per week of strength training, which is consistent with exercise guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” The American Diabetes Association recommends replacing high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt foods with a mix of fiber, protein, fruits, and vegetables to keep blood sugar levels steady.
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The fact these improvements can happen independently of weight loss should also signify a shift in how we conceptualize both obesity and diabetes, according to Peter Billings, the Seattle bariatric surgeon who operated on Benari. Billings, a nearly 20-year veteran in the field, has started to perform surgery on other lower-BMI patients similar to Benari, though they often pay out of pocket.
If you google “diabetes cure” you are directed to websites like WebMD and the Mayo Clinic where you find information on diet, exercise, medication, and insulin therapy, but nothing about the cure. This lack of information may have to do with the fact that Americans spend $322 billion a year to treat diabetes, $60 billion a year on weight-loss programs, and $124 billion a year on snack foods. This is about 3% of the US economy! Because so many peoples’ livelihoods are supported by diabetes and its main cause, obesity, the viral effect of people getting cured and telling others is greatly diminished.