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Navajo-Hopi Observer | Flagstaff, Arizona

home : opinions : columns July 23, 2016

12/17/2013 10:15:00 AM
Guest column: Guest column: Mountain medicine: obesity and diabetes - surgery can help

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that affects how the body manages insulin. When a person develops Type 2 diabetes, the ability to manufacture and control insulin is impaired or no longer works.

While the three types of diabetes - Type 1, Type 2 and gestational - can be developed in different ways, Type 2 diabetes has been found to correlate with the increase in body weight in both adults and children. The majority of those with Type 2 diabetes are considered to be overweight, if not obese. Most people who develop diabetes as an adult do so as a result of excess weight. This adult-onset, Type 2 diabetes, can be a scary thought, but one that can be managed, prevented and often alleviated, especially after weight loss surgery.

Managing Diabetes

Maintaining or striving towards a healthy weight can improve the way the body metabolizes carbohydrates. A 10-percent reduction in body weight can greatly impact the progression of diabetes, help lower obesity and obesity-related health conditions, and have an impact on blood pressure and cholesterol.

This 10-percent reduction of body weight easily can equate to a mere seven to 10 pounds in most people. Losing weight plus leading a healthy lifestyle can delay and even prevent diabetes; for those with diabetes it is essential in managing the disease. Healthy eating and consuming alcohol in moderation also play a big role in a healthy lifestyle.

Losing weight can be a vicious cycle

Losing weight is a key factor in diabetes prevention and helping ward off other health problems. But losing weight is hard. One symptom often seen with those struggling with obesity is the challenge of losing weight. For those who do lose weight, keeping the weight off can begin a new battle, known as the "vicious cycle."

The vicious cycle is the sense of failure after a weight loss attempt is begun. The vicious cycle frequently is triggered when a weight loss plateau is reached or when an indulgence of the "wrong food" is made. During the cycle people often find themselves gaining the initial lost weight back in addition to new weight. Because the metabolic response in obese people is a bit different, regaining weight may be done disproportionately.

Break the Cycle

To reap the health benefits of losing weight and to break the vicious cycle, many have turned to weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery). Bariatric surgery assists the body in quickly losing excess weight associated with diabetes and helps break the cycle of weight loss/weight gain. Many people who were living with adult onset Type 2 diabetes show a lesser form of the disease, with a decreased need for insulin and/or other medications. In many cases their diabetes is alleviated after surgery.

The Bariatric Surgical Weight Loss Center at Flagstaff Medical Center offers the help people need to lose weight and keep it off. The three weight loss surgeries offered at Flagstaff Medical Center - gastric band, sleeve and bypass - can help change lives, but are not magic solutions to weight loss.

Ashley Peak, R.N., B.S.N., C.E.N., is the clinical manager of FMC's Bariatric Surgical Weight Loss Center.

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