Did you hear today’s news? Bariatric surgery can reverse diabetes in some people. Rearrange the internal organs, give the intestines some breathing room so insulin can do its job, and poof! Blood sugars returned to normal in more than half of the patients studied (www.nytimes.com).
With an estimated 26 million Americans with diabetes and 79 million more in the pipeline with prediabetes, make no mistake. The diabetes-obesity epidemic will make doctors and Big Pharma rich beyond anyone’s imaginations. Meanwhile, this same epidemic jeopardizes our national security system because of the lack of physically fit men and women to recruit into the branches of the U.S. military. It also threatens the financial viability of our public hospitals and our children’s futures.
Is surgery really a viable alternative for some of the 94 million Americans with or at high risk for diabetes who also happen to be obese? Just think of the profits to the health care system if surgery becomes one of the top treatment options for diabetes.
Then think of the number of people who will die from the complications of bariatric surgery because they’ve been sold the easy-fix glamour package. The fact is that there is a risk of death every time you go into a hospital surgical suite as a patient. They don’t tell you that on the billboard on U.S. Highway One I see every day for a local hospital’s bariatric surgery department.
For some people who are extremely overweight and have diabetes, surgery may be a good option for preventing life-threatening and irreversible complications. It’s not a good option for most people, however.
I hope the media, in its frenzy to cover today’s “big” story, does not lose sight of the fact that most people with type 2 diabetes can control and reverse it with changes to what they eat and how much physical activity they get. I hope people living with diabetes who are overweight will talk with their doctors about the pros AND cons of bariatric surgery before making any irrational decisions. The fact is today’s story may be good news for those who are extremely overweight and struggling with the consequences of uncontrolled blood sugars.
Remember that for most people with diabetes, it can be controlled by becoming educated about foods, fitness, and finding the right balance. It’s about making good choices most of the time.
Enough talk from me. Enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Take a walk with a friend or a loved one. I’ve worked with so many adults who, when they started walking every day and making small changes in their foods, started losing weight and reducing the medicines they needed because their blood sugars came back into control.
My prescription for you? Walk every day. Reduce the bad carbs (like sodas, sweet tea, white bread, foods containing white sugar) and make most of your carbs the good ones (like lots of vegetables, whole grains, lentils, split peas, fruit). And remember that knowing what to do to control diabetes is easy…once you’ve been educated about what to do.
Nancy L. Heinrich, MPH
Your Healthy Diabetes CoachTags: bariatric surgery for diabetes, diabetes, diabetes and food, Healthy Diabetes Coach, Nancy Heinrich, obesity and diabetes, reversing diabetes