Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Obesity surgery controversy

I recently blogged about my thoughts on Dan Hurley's Diabetes Rising, a fantastic book about the history, present, and future of diabetes. The one thing I noticed was that he was somewhat noncommittal on whether he attributed type 2 diabetes to diet — he claims early on that it's not as simple as that, but later in the book, he does a great deal of talking about an area of the country with the highest incidence of the disease: the number of fast food restaurants there, the lack of health education, etc.

Anyway, one subject he talks about that I didn't mention in my last post about the book was obesity surgery as a cure for diabetes. There are two types of surgeries — one that makes the stomach smaller, and one that bypasses part of the intestines. He follows a guy who has both surgeries, and almost immediately the patient goes off his diabetes medications, which hadn't been working very well. It is a miracle cure for him.

Well, this obesity surgery has come into the news as a treatment for diabetes. Although Hurley writes about it very positively, I have mixed feelings. Sure, there are probably people who biologically need it in order to control their weight and their diabetes. But I also fear that type 2 diabetics who could be helped by diet and exercise, won't try to live healthier lifestyles, because it's so much easier just to get the surgery and be done with it. I also worry that people who haven't developed type 2 diabetes yet, but are perhaps prone to it, will not try as hard to watch their diet or stay active, because hey — what's the point? If their lifestyle starts to affect their health, they just have to get a quick surgery, and ta-da — all better!

What are your thoughts on the issue?

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