Obesity and Diabetes- Correlation

Currently India has the third highest number of obese patients in the world after USA and China. Also, India has the second highest number of patients with diabetes after China. With this staggering growth in the number of obese as well as diabetics in the India both these health problems have become a major and ever lasting impact on the economy and health status.

Is there a correlation between Obesity and Diabetes?

It is estimated that about 60-90% patients with Type II Diabetes are also obese with a BMI more than 30kg/m2 in India. In Indians the fat percentage is much higher than the muscle mass. With more of central or visceral obesity ie, around the waist and abdomen patients with a BMI of as low as 23kg/m2 Indiansare also prone to developing diabetes. It is this high fat percentage and low muscle mass in the body that makes the person more prone to developing hyperinsulinemia thereby increasing their risk for type II Diabetes and also progressively leading to failure of the pancreatic cells. In obese patients these free fat cells around the muscles, abdomen and liver lead to a cytokine storm thereby leading to insulin-resistance and excess inflammation.

How can it be treated?

Lifelong and sustained weight loss through lifestyle modifications is the appropriate treatment for obesity and diabetes. But in patients who are overweight or obese (BMI >28kg/m2) with diabetes, the metabolism of the person is affected in such a way that following a diet and exercising and maintaining that weight becomes impossible. In such patients a treatment that will only help with the weight loss but also treat their diabetes is the most appropriate form of treatment.

So then, is there a cure?

Bariatric Surgery

Metabolic or Bariatric surgery for Type II Diabetes is now a treatment approved by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) as a scientific treatment for remission or cure of Type II Diabetes.

Who can undergo this surgery?

In Indians and Asians since the fat percentage is much higher than their western counterparts, anyone who is above a BMI of more than 28kg/m2 along with Type II Diabetes is an ideal patient to undergo bariatric and metabolic surgery. In patients with Obesity and Diabetes it is a dual burden.

How does surgery work?

Almost all patients who undergo bariatric surgery show a significant improvement in their diabetic status. The dual benefit of bariatric surgery is such that it induces weight loss thereby treating obesity but along with that there is a significant change in hormones and metabolism of the blood glucose which is independent of the weight loss.

Surgery has shown to improve diabetic status in almost 90% patients by reducing their blood sugar levels, reducing the medicine dose that they required as well as improving the health problems arising out of diabetes. In 78% of the patients there is improvement in blood sugar levels along with elimination of all anti diabetic medications.

In a study titled ‘Gastric Bypass vs. Medical/Lifestyle Care for Type 2 Diabetes in South Asians’ Dr Shashank Shah was the first surgeon to be awarded the Vivian Fonseca Award by the American Diabetes Association for surgical treatment of Type II Diabetes. In the study two group of patients, one undergoing surgical treatment and the other on medical and lifestyle management alone were compared way back in 2006 and it was found the efficacy of bariatric surgery much more as patients with uncontrolled diabetes who underwent surgery achieved total disease remission compared to the medical arm which continued to be on medicines.