Diabetics Obesity Surgery: Stomach Stapling for the Not-So-Fat?

by Aina Hunter ,  CBS NEWS | 2010-07-08

(CBS/AP) Stomach stapling for the not-so-fat? If you have diabetes and are battling a mid-size bulge it might just help.

For years, doctors have noted that obese people who undergo bariatric surgery - stomach stapling and the like - often experience a reversal of their diabetes. Many achieve normal blood sugar and are able to ditch their medications.

Could diabetes sufferers who aren't obese, just a bit overweight, benefit as well?

It's a big issue. According to the American Diabetes Association, 24 million Americans have the disease. The cost of treatment and lost work is $175 billion.

But doctors who want to try expanding the reach of bariatric surgery are swimming against the tide. That's because if you want to get your stomach stapled, you have to meet some pretty strict criteria.

Federal guidelines say surgery candidates must be morbidly obese with a body mass index over 40, or a BMI over 35 plus a weight-related medical problem like diabetes or high blood pressure. Insurers use the cutoffs in deciding whether to pay for the procedure.

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