The difference appeared to be due to the amount of weight that the patients lost rather than the specific approach they used. In other words, if the diet-and-exercise patients had managed to lose as much weight as the surgical patients, their diabetes may have been as well-controlled.
"This tells us that you need to lose substantial weight before you'll reverse the diabetes," Dixon said.
The findings are published in the Jan. 23 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
So should diabetics rush to get gastric band operations? The cost could stop many of them.
The procedure costs an average of $18,000 in the United States, Dixon said. By contrast, diet and exercise are free.
"The problem is that it's hard to lose weight" by using traditional, non-surgical methods, Dixon said.
Dr. Alan Wittgrove, medical director of the bariatric program at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., said the study provides "great information" that adds to research about other gastric weight-loss procedures.
"It's nice to have something in the literature that says the band works well for diabetes," he said, although he added that it's important to note that success rates vary depending on where the procedure is done.
And what of the argument that fat people should just eat less and visit the gym? In some cases, overweight people with diabetes "don't really have the opportunity to lose weight and be healthier, oftentimes because of the medication they're on," he said.
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