About a third of America’s youth are either overweight or obese. More and more obese children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of the disease and the one that is linked with obesity. In the past, it was rarely seen in kids.
On the positive side, a small study has shown that obesity surgery can reverse diabetes in teens like it does in adults. There were 11 patients in the study who were aged 14 to 21 and all were severely obese, ranging from 250 to 403 pounds. They were taking diabetes pills and one was on insulin. They had gastric bypass surgery or stomach stapling at five different medical centers. At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital,they were compared to 67 teens who were mostly obese and had diabetes. Their blood sugar was being controlled with diet and medication.
After a year, those who had surgery had lost between 72 and 218 pounds, but none had reduced to a normal weight. Diabetes disappeared within a year for all but one of the 11 severely obese teens in the study, after under going weight- loss surgery, according to the researchers. The 11th patient still had diabetes, but was able to stop taking diabetes pills and needed much less insulin.
All of the teens who did not have surgery still had diabetes after a year and there was no change in their weight or their medication usage, but their blood sugar levels showed improvement.
The researchers said the reason wasn’t clear why diabetes wasn’t reversed in one patient who had been through the surgery, but they mentioned that his mother and a sibling had Type 2 diabetes. The teen still needed to take insulin but was no longer overweight three years after the surgery. Another reason could be that his diabetes was more advanced than the other teens in the study. Previous adult studies have found that the chances of reversing diabetes are better when the surgery is done soon after a being diagnosed. The others were most likely successful because their surgery was done while the patients were in the early stages of the disease.