There is some seriously positive news afoot in regards to bariatric surgery. A new study shows that it reduces the long-term risk of diabetes by over 80% among people with obesity. Here we look at the study, and follow up with considerations about your nutrient levels if you decide to pursue this surgery.
Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, this study was based in Sweden. Researchers found that bariatric surgery is far more effective than traditional care and lifestyle changes in preventing diabetes among obese individuals.
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The treatment group included 1,658 subjects who had undergone bariatric surgery, compared to a control group of 1,771 equally obese people who had received traditional care. Over 15 years of follow-up, 110 people in the surgery group developed diabetes, compared to nearly 400 in the control group. There was no difference between men and women. This equates to a more than 80% risk reduction, which is very high, and sure to put wind in the sails of those who support bariatric surgery.
You should know, though, of nutritional concerns following this surgery. The most common nutritional deficiencies are for vitamin B12, iron, and folate in two specific surgeries: “Biliopancreatic Diversion” (BPD) and “Short Limb Roux-en-y Gastric Bypass” (RYGB).
These deficiencies may develop slowly, and aren’t diagnosed until many years after surgery. For this reason, it’s a good idea to take supplements right after surgery. Also, have your doctor measure nutrient levels at each annual physical. RYGB leads to a common drop in iron, particularly among middle-aged women. Research shows that almost half of all RYGB patients wind up with iron deficiency within four years.
Vitamin B12 can be even worse after RYGB, with up to seven out of every 10 patients becoming deficient. People who can tolerate meat are less likely to suffer this deficiency, as well as folate and iron deficiencies, compared to those who cannot tolerate meat. Still, taking B12 supplements can correct this deficiency in the vast majority of patients.
Another two important nutrients to keep your eye on are calcium and vitamin D. Deficiencies in these nutrients are more common in obese people due to lack of exercise and high body fat. Pay close attention to them whether you opt for surgery or not.