Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new weight-loss procedure in which a thin tube, implanted in the stomach, ejects food from the body before all the calories can be absorbed.
Some have called it “medically sanctioned bulimia,” and it is the latest in a desperate search for new ways to stem the rising tides of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Roughly one-third of adult Americans are now obese; two-thirds are overweight; and diabetes afflicts some 29 million. Another 86 million Americans have a condition called pre-diabetes. None of the proposed solutions have made a dent in these epidemics.
Watching a person die from cardiac arrest in an intensive care unit is devastating. It’s especially so when the person is a woman in her 40s who has been smothered to death by her own weight — and we doctors can do nothing to save her.
This 500-pound patient, who was at a county hospital in Georgia where I was working, had respiratory failure caused by obesity hypoventilation syndrome, a breathing disorder. It was just the tip of the iceberg of her medical problems. Her obesity had contributed to the development of heart failure, which led to kidney failure that necessitated dialysis. Her respiratory failure required mechanical ventilation, which placed her lungs at increased risk for infection. And so she developed pneumonia not too long after being placed on the ventilator.
While we “saved” her after the initial cardiac arrest, her weakened heart and body arrested again. Unable to overcome all of these odds, this patient died in the hospital’s ICU.
Studies have shown that bariatric surgery can lead to remission of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in rodents and humans, but this beneficial effect cannot be explained solely by weight loss. In a new study, researchers investigating gastric bypass in a mouse model of T2DM confirmed that bypass surgery improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, the improved metabolism occurred in conjunction with changes in gut microorganisms, suggesting a potential role for gut microbiota in diabetes remission.