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Diabetes UK warns of quick-fix promise

Diabetes UK advises caution regarding a 40 minute ‘stomach stapling’ operation that could enable people with Type 2 diabetes to manage their condition, as reported in today’s papers.

The operation, known as duodenal exclusion, involves bypassing part of the upper small intestine so that food goes directly into the lower small intestine.  One of the duodenum’s jobs is to break down food before it gets to the next part of the intestine. As a result, the procedure reduces the amount of food people are able to digest.

Clinical trials involving 50 people will start in the UK in a month’s time. The procedure has shown to be effective in previous research on animals and on a small number of people. The research also showed that a few people experienced a beneficial effect on blood glucose levels.

However, Diabetes UK is warning people with Type 2 diabetes to be extremely cautious and not to raise their hopes.

"This research is interesting," said Simon O’Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy Services at Diabetes UK.

"Weight management and a healthier lifestyle are vital elements of good diabetes control. However, we would always recommend a healthy balanced diet and increased amounts of physical activity as the first port of call to lose weight.

"We appreciate that for some people, weight management is very difficult despite lifestyle changes. However, it must be remembered that this surgery is only at the clinical trial stage. Regardless of the trial outcomes, surgical intervention should only be a last option.

"The reports that this surgery can somehow help in diabetes management have been seen in too few people. We strongly advise against people thinking that this operation could cure Type 2 diabetes.”

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