Gastric Bypass Surgery Not Quick Fix Cure for Diabetes

National health leader calls message of cure through surgery "dangerous to health" of diabetics and research "limited"

Washington, DC – “To promote gastric bypass surgery as a quick fix for diabetes is unconscionable. The outsized media attention to these limited studies gives false hope to diabetics and could be dangerous to health,” said Jane L. Delgado, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Hispanic Health and author of the Buena Salud Guide to Diabetes and Your Life.

“These studies do not meet the standard of evidence.  Health providers should not recommended surgery to their diabetic patients simply based on these limited studies,” said Dr. Delgado.  “The studies have no proof of long-term effect (more than five years), sample sizes are small, and they did not test for patients older than 60 years of age.” 

“Moreover, the studies do not sufficiently address the long-term consequences that cutting out part of the stomach has on the microbiome, the good bacteria that reside in your gut.”  Dr. Delgado cautioned that, “Given the increase in type 1.5 diabetes, i.e., type 2 diabetes that becomes type 1 diabetes, there is a need to proceed with great caution to avoid other consequences and complications.”

Two studies published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that three types of gastric bypass surgery can reverse diabetes.  According to Dr. Delgado, “this surgery with its inherent risks is an extreme treatment for diabetes.”  In fact, the authors of the U.S. study reported that of 140 patients completing the study, four patients required additional surgical interventions.

Dr. Delgado pointed to studies showing that rather than surgery, diet changes and exercise could have similar impact reversing most features of diabetes.  Dr. Delgado emphasized “research has shown that diet and exercise is safe and effective.”

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About the National Alliance for Hispanic Health
The Alliance is the nation's foremost science-based source of information and trusted advocate for the health of Hispanics in the United States. The Alliance represents thousands of Hispanic health providers across the nation providing services to more than 15 million each year, making a daily difference in the lives of Hispanic communities and families. For more information, visit http://www.hispanichealth.org or call the Alliance's Su Familia National Hispanic Family Health Helpline at 1-866-783-2645.

Press Contact:
Adam J. Segal
(202) 422-4673 or media@hispanichealth.org