FITTING a gastric band could give overweight diabetic people more control over their disease and lead to them needing fewer insulin jabs or pills, a new study found.
Previous studies have concentrated on the obese or morbidly obese but the new five year study by Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, looked at those classified as overweight with a BMI 25 to 29.9.
They managed their diabetes better, improved their chances of remission, reduced the need for diabetes medication and dramatically enhanced their quality of life.
Clinician researcher Dr John Wentworth said: “We had people who were feeling better, moving better and who were happier because of the surgery.
“Their diabetes was better controlled and they needed fewer diabetic medications to control their blood sugar levels.”
He urged guidelines should be revised so it can be offered to those currently not eligible for the surgery.
The NHS offers the procedure to patients with potentially life-threatening obesity, including those with a BMI of over 40, or with a BMI over 35 with a serious health condition such as type 2 or high blood pressure.
Type 2 diabetes is where the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin and sufferers are told to eat healthier, lose weight and exercise.
Yet around nine in ten people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese and require medication to help control blood glucose levels.
It cost £11.7 billion a year to treat type 2 patients, nearly a tenth of the NHS budget.
Researchers from Monash’s Centre for Obesity Research and Education randomly assigned 22 to receive gastric banding combined with medical care, and 23 who received medical care alone.
Both groups received help with lifestyle factors such as exercise and healthy eating.
Almost a quarter of the gastric band group showed diabetes remission at five years, compared to nine per cent of the medical care-only group.
Dr Wentworth added the results provided “reasonably strong evidence” that gastric banding, as a safe and effective weight loss operation, was an acceptable alternative for people who wanted it.
“I think it’s a matter of just looking at the best ways of managing diabetes and preventing diabetes complications.
“We’re interested in making life easier for these people and reducing the risk of the main complications, mainly heart attack, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.
“Although we’d be delighted if people could lose over 10 per cent of their weight through lifestyle modification, the reality is that the vast majority of people can’t manage that.”
The study was published in Diabetes Care.