Should we really cut our way out of the diabetes epidemic?

I’ve got a joke for you…

So, a coronary bypass surgery and a gastric bypass walk into a bar…

Oh wait. It’s not a joke. It’s a new study. And the punchline’s on us.

Here’s the actual study title:

“Call to Make Bariatric Surgery as Common as Coronary Bypass”

Really? I don’t know who’s making the “call” here–either the surgeons who are getting richer with every cut of the knife, or the people eating and drinking themselves into obesity and then looking for a quick fix. But I can tell you this: both of them are flat out wrong.

According to this very small study of only 60 people, about a third were able to discontinue their diabetes medications after undergoing all some form of bariatric surgery (either gastric bypass or gastric banding). But the people in the control group, who received a 1-year lifestyle intervention, didn’t have the same results.

So of course, the researchers concluded that lifestyle intervention wasn’t effective, and called for a dramatic increase in the use of bariatric surgery instead. But there are some pretty big holes in this study that really need to be filled before coming to such an extreme conclusion. Let’s take a closer look at some of the details.

First of all, when your stomach is surgically reduced to the size of an egg, you will obviously eat less and lose weight. But there are some serious side effects to this type of drastic surgery.

Your digestive system can no longer absorb essential nutrients very well, so you won’t be getting the nutrition you need from the foods you eat. Which means your risk of serious — even life-threatening — nutrient deficiencies skyrockets.

Plus, bariatric surgery frequently takes all the pleasure out of eating. Many patients experience what’s called “dumping syndrome,” where you feel nauseated, weak, start to sweat, and have diarrhea after you eat.

But perhaps most worrisome of all is that we have no idea what the long-term effects of re-routing your digestive system are, because surgeries like these haven’t been around long enough.

But let’s move on and take a closer look at the “lifestyle” control group in this study.

The fact is, the people in this group were at a disadvantage at the outset, because, to be considered for bariatric surgery, you need to be at least 100 pounds overweight and have failed at a weight loss program before. And the lifestyle strategies were centered around a healthy diet that was between 1200 and 1800 calories a day, and exercising for 20 minutes 5 days a week, then building up to 60 minutes 7 days a week.

That’s quite an overwhelming shift for someone who has likely struggled with their weight for years.

Plus, we have no idea what the “healthy diet” consisted of besides restricted calories. My guess is adding healthy fats and eliminating processed carbs wasn’t part of the plan. So no doubt these patients felt deprived and were set up to fail.

When my obese patients follow my Hampton’s Diet they don’t feel deprived, and adopt a pattern of eating that eliminates the very foods that got them overweight to begin with: excess carbs, processed foods (including “diet” and “low fat” foods), sugary drinks and diet sodas.

And when they follow my complete Metabolic Repair Protocol, nearly all of my obese patients — as well as my non-obese type 2 diabetic patients and even some type 1’s — can eventually come off of their medications either completely or seriously reduce them.

So, with all of that in mind, I don’t consider the data from this study to be statistically significant. Nor does it show the long-term result from either group.

But the most ridiculous thing about this study was the commentary that went along with it. Listen to this:

“The time has come for bariatric surgery to be as common as coronary artery bypass surgery. We should consider the use of bariatric (metabolic) surgery in all severely obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus and start a mass treatment, similar to what was done with coronary artery bypass graft more than 50 years ago.”

Coronary bypasses have indeed become common over the past 50 years. But where has it gotten us? Rates of heart disease continue to climb. In fact, this disease is now the No. 1 killer in this country.

Have we learned nothing?

Unfortunately, the current mindset in this country is…“if the doc can fix me, then let him.” It’s just one big cop-out.

Coronary bypasses are not the cure all …and neither is bariatric surgery.