Losing Weight by Surgery or Dieting Offers Similar Metabolic Benefits


Weight loss for severely obese people has the same metabolic benefits, whether achieved through weight loss surgery or dieting. Weight loss plays a significant role in improvements such as remission of lifestyle diseases.

According to a new study by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, weight loss alone, and not any effects of bariatric surgery that is responsible for improvements such as better blood sugar and diabetes remission. The principal investigator, also the Director of the University’s Center for Human Nutrition, Dr. Samuel Klein, stated: 

“It has been presumed that gastric bypass surgery has therapeutic, metabolic effects that result in better glucose control and even remission of diabetes beyond the effects expected from weight loss alone. But we found gastric bypass surgery improves metabolic function by causing weight loss.”

Achieved Equivalent Weight Loss

The research team observed 11 gastric bypass surgery patients who presented with diabetes and compared them with 11 others with diabetes but had achieved equivalent weight loss using diet alone. The average age of the patients in the bariatric surgery group was 49, while the diet group average was 55. The surgery group respondents lost 51 pounds on average while those in the diet group lost some 48 pounds on average. 

The researchers used sophisticated techniques over 24 hours in a hospital setting to observe the respondents’ metabolic responses to meals. The team discovered that members from both groups experienced similar metabolism improvements, such as lower blood sugar levels throughout the day, better insulin action in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue, and reductions in the need for insulin and other diabetes medications. Dr. Klein added: 

“There were no differences in the reduction of diabetes medications or in the rate of diabetes remission between surgery patients and those who lost equivalent amounts of weight through diet alone.”

Same Beneficial Metabolic Effects

According to statistics, over 40% of adults in the U.S. are overweight, with at least 10% of Americans being severely obese. Over 250,000 Americans undergo bariatric surgery annually to assist them in weight loss. The golden standard procedure, known as Roux-en-Y bypass, has been the most successful so far in terms of complete weight loss and long-term management. 

During the procedure, a surgeon works laparoscopically using part of a patient’s football-sized stomach. The surgeon creates a pouch the size of a ping pong ball connected directly to the small intestine, bypassing much of the small intestine. According to Klein, the William H. Danforth Professor of Medicine and Nutritional Science and chief of the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, the loss of weight is the reason for improvements in metabolic function and diabetes reversal. Weight loss through dieting produces the same beneficial metabolic effects like weight loss following surgery.

Long-Term Health Consequences

Klein’s study was focused on the effects of gastric bypass surgery on metabolic function and did not look at other medical complications associated with obesity. Some options can help you lose weight, prevent weight gain, and improve your overall health and well-being. Even small amounts of weight loss can significantly improve your energy and reduce health complications and long-term health consequences. Talking to your doctor can be challenging, especially if you don’t like talking about your weight in general. But starting an open and honest line of communication with your doctor via Telehealth Apps can lead to a successful journey to weight loss.