WASHINGTON - A gastric bypass or other type of weight-loss surgery can help diabetics who are moderately obese but more proof is needed before promoting them on a wider scale, a study said Tuesday.
"Bariatric surgery for diabetic people who are not severely obese has shown promising results in controlling glucose," said Melinda Maggard-Gibbons, the study's lead author and a surgeon at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"However, we need more information about the long-term benefits and risks before recommending bariatric surgery over nonsurgical weight-loss treatment for these individuals."
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is based on a review of evidence supporting the use of bariatric surgery to treat people who are diabetic and who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 to 35 - considered on the low end of the obesity spectrum.
It found that diabetics with moderate obesity lost more weight and had better glucose control over two years if they got such surgery rather than opting for non-surgical treatment like dieting and drugs.
Patients who had a gastric bypass saw better results - more short term weight loss and better control of blood sugar levels - than those who underwent gastric banding.
But the researchers said the findings stem from a relatively small number of trials and that more studies are needed - including on how patients did after two or more years, as well as complication rates and side effects.
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved gastric banding for people with a BMI of 30 to 35 who have an illness linked to obesity.